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Full text of "Athelstan, a tragedy"

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Z. 1 




ATHELSTAN, 



LIFE AND DEATH, AN ALLEGOEY, 

AND OTHER POEMS. 

BY EDMUND H. WHITE, 

GUARD, GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY. 



Price Five Shillings. 



ATHELSTAN, 



LIFE AND DEATH, 

AND OTHER POEMS. 



By EDMUND H. WHITE, 

;/ 

GUARD, GREAT WESTEBN RAILWAY. 



LONDON: 
WILLIAM STRANGE, 21, PATERNOSTER ROW. 

MDCCCXLVII. 



JLW 



TO HIS GRACE 

THE DUKE OF BEAUFORT, 

THIS VOLUME IS, BY PERMISSION, MOST RESPECTFULLY 

IBe&tcatetU 

BY HIS GRACE'S MOST OBEDIENT, 
HUMBLE, 
AND VERY DUTIFUL SERVANT, 

THE AUTHOR. 



<P7 



PREFACE. 



In presenting this volume to the public, I beg 
leave most respectfully to thank the numerous 
subscribers, for the kind manner in which they 
came forward, with the most generous liberality, to 
assist me in my undertaking ; and, although I am 
aware of the deep responsibility I have incurred in 
thus venturing upon the already fully occupied 
field of literature, I trust that my humble efforts 
will not be deemed utterly useless. Doubtless 
there are many persons who will consider it 
absurd for a man born and reared in humble 
circumstances, to attempt to thrust himself for- 
ward upon the notice of the public ; believing, as 
they do, that an all-wise Creator has conferred 
upon the sons of honest industry no other talent 
than that of earning their bread by the sweat of 
their brow ; but, let it be remembered, that when 
the primeval curse was bestowed upon man, there 
was no distinction made by that dread Judge, in his 
universal sentence : the curse was addressed to 
no distinct class, colour, or creed, but to the whole 



VI PKEFACE. 

human race. Nor can it be denied that from 
amongst the lower orders of the people some 
of the brightest and most glorious of God's living 
images have sprung, and why should they not? 
Is not the same heaven above them, and the same 
earth beneath them ? Is not the illimitable light 
which beams in the azure sky, shed alike on the 
highest and the lowest of created beings ? Doth 
not the mighty ocean receive many tributary 
streams from sources whose origin is, in appear- 
ance, too contemptible to meet a single glance from 
the unthinking and unobservant eye ; and shall 
man, alone, be denied the privilege that is granted 
to universal nature by its Almighty Founder ? No ! 

For He who sits upon the august throne 

Of heaven's eternal vault, and looketh down 

Upon poor sinful man, alone can tell 

What boundless thoughts do in his bosom dwell; 

Thoughts, which long smouldering, burst forth into 

flame, 
And erst have gain'd a plebeian lasting fame. 

That such a result will follow my humble efforts, 
I have not the ridiculous vanity to imagine ; but 
having for some years been a contributor to a cheap 
periodical, and having generally found my contribu- 
tions willingly accepted, without ever receiving the 
slightest remuneration for them, my friends (many 
of whom move in a far different sphere to that in 



PREFACE. Vii 

which it hath been my lot to be cast) have fre- 
quently urged me to publish on my own account ; 
and with a feeling of doubt, not altogether unmixed 
with a slight ray of hope, for the result, I have 
acquiesced in their wishes ; and being perfectly 
aware that apologies will neither add to nor dimi- 
nish the value of these pages, they are most re- 
spectfully presented to the subscribers and the 
public, by 

Their most obedient, 

and very humble servant, 

The Author, 



W& gtutfw's &tforess to tjje ODrtttcs. 

Oh, ye stern critics, who, with grey goose quill, 
Cut up poor authors with downright good will, 
Methinks, e'en now, I see your awful frown, 
And hear ye mutter u Pho! the boor, the clown ! 
The untaught knave, the ignoramus, yet 
Hath scarcely learn'd to con his- alphabet !" 
Gramercy, sirs, 'tis very true, that I 
Have ne'er yet gazed upon Italia's sky ; 
Nor have I drank from out the precious stream 
Of classic lore, the poet's loftiest theme ; 



Vlll ADDRESS TO THE CRITICS. 

Nor Cam, nor Isis, ever deign'd for me 
Provide a dinner, or more humble tea. 
Untaught I am, save that I've cast mine eye 
O'er all creation's works — earth, sea, and sky ; 
And in each cloud which o'er my head doth lour, 
Behold the semblance of Almighty pow'r. 
Is this a crime ? — if 'tis, sirs, then let me 
Brave all the malice of your enmity ; 
But if to soar above the common herd, 
And let my simple strains be feebly heard, 
Is not a crime, unfitting me for heav'n, 
By man, at least, I trust to be forgiv'n. 
Yet, if I err, at least, sweet gentles, look, 
And, ere you do condemn, pray read my book. 



CONTENTS. 



PAGE 

athelstan: an historical tragedy 1 

a few words on poets, ancient and modern . . . 101 

stanzas on love 121 

oh, i love to ride on the ocean wide 124 

"god said, let there be light " 126 

teignmouth, south devon 131 

a voice from the dead 133 

my mother's grave 135 

life and death: an allegory 136 

the poacher , . . . . 147 

a storm at sea 150 

a calm at sea 154 

stanzas on hope 155 

a soldier on the field of waterloo 158 

dear land of the free 161 



ATHELSTAN: 



AN HISTORICAL TRAGEDY. 



IN FIVE ACTS. 



CHARACTERS REPRESENTED. 



> English Lords. 



Athelstan, King of Britain. 

Turketal, Chancellor. 

Altheof, a Warrior Bishop. 

Kent, 

Essex, 

Cedrjc, a Soldier attached to Essex. 

Sithric, a Danish Noble, afterwards King of Northumbria. 

_. ' !- Sithric's Sons. 

(jrODFRID, J 

Oscar, 

.. > Welsh Princes. 

Glendig, 



,} 

Manfrid, 1 



Danish Chiefs, 
VVulfstan, 

Editha, Sister to Athelstan, afterwards Queen of Northumbria. 
Elgiva, Waiting Woman to Editha. 



English and Danish Soldiers, fyc. Sfc. tyc. 
Period, 928 and 929, a.d. 



ATHELSTAN. 



ACT I. 

SCENE I. — Interior of Athelstan's Castle — 
Athelstan (solus.) 

ATHELSTAN. 

It must be so : then shall fair Britain rest 
From war's rude turmoil, and her sons enjoy 
The sweets of calm repose : then may our reign 
Shed lasting blessings o'er our sea-girt isle ! 
Ha, see, who comes ! 

Enter Turketal. 

Turketal, in our thoughts 
Thou wert but now ; thy policy we've ta'en 
Into our deep consideration, glanced 
With anxious eye o'er all its bearings, and 
At length become a convert. 

TURKETAL. 

Your grace will then adopt my policy ; 
And yielding up a part, secure the whole ? 

ATHELSTAN. 

Heaven grant it so, Turketal ! May thy words 
Prophetic prove ! Oh, may no luckless star 

b 2 



4 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

Cast gloom o'er these fair prospects ! may our land 
Be free from war and turmoil, and her sons 
Enjoy those blessings we would fain bestow ! 

TURKETAL. 

Doubt not, my liege, it will be so. I feel 

The spirit of sweet concord rise within 

My trembling breast ; grant, Heaven, sweet Peace 

may rest 
Once more on this fair isle ; bid discord cease, 
And teach her stubborn sons to cast aside 
The instruments of war ; then will this land 
Pour forth in rich profusion all her stores 
Of hidden wealth, to bless the hand that dives 
Into her earthly womb. 

Enter Kent and Essex. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Welcome, my lords — right welcome ! We have need 
Of thy good counsel, and our chancellor 
Will, in brief words, explain our utmost wish. 

TURKETAL. 

His grace, my lords, will list unto our prayers, 
And end this awful discord, that too long 
Hath rent fair Britain, and destroy'd her sons. 
The Princes sEditha, that beauteous maid, 
Whom Heaven in mercy sent us at our need, 
Will seal the solemn compact, and become 
The wife of Sithric, and Northumbrian queen. 

KENT. 

Heaven's blessings rest upon her ! May her days 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. i 

Be days of joy ; her nights blest with repose — 
The choicest gift bestow'd on mortals ; ills 
Fly from her lovely presence ; may the joys 
That nature cast around her parent's couch 
On her bright natal morn, e'er shed their beams 
O'er her illustrious head. Oh, may she be, 
In ages yet to come, renown'd as free 
From all the vices of her gentle sex. 

ATHELSTAN. 

A goodly wish, my lord. What ! Essex dumb 
In a fair lady's praise ? My lord, I deem 
The fair Editha and you are not friends. 

ESSEX. 

Pardon, your grace ; I am not free of speech, 
But actions speak the man. Let me be judged 
E'en by my deeds, and if they prove me false 
To Editha, or any of her sex, 
However high or humble they may be, 
Your grace may cast dishonour on my shield. 

ATHELSTAN. 

It needs not, Essex, for thy tongue to speak 
Thy manly virtues or heroic deeds ; 
Right well we know thee faithful, just, and true ; 
To honour's cause, and to our hearts thou'rt dear. 
But come, my lords, be seated ! Let us cast 
All jesting to the winds, for idle words 
But speak of idle deeds. Let ours be such 
As tend to the improvement of our race. 

(Athelstan and Lords sit down in deliberation.) 



6 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I, 

athelstan {rising.) 
Even so, my lord ; haste to Northumbria, 
And say to Sithric thus : We have resolved 
To crown him King of all Northumberland, 
Subject to us as suzerain and lord. 
Say, that to bind our interests in one bond 
Of godlike brotherhood, we do incline 
To offer him our sister for his bride ; 
Then, if he should reject our proffer, say, 
We soon will quell his stubborn pride, and lay 
The guilt of all the blood that may be shed, 
In most unrighteous warfare, on his head. 

KENT. 

My liege, I will conform me to your wish, 
And doubt not my success. The fiery Dane 
Is warm and generous, and his valiant heart 
Too soft and tender to resist the boon 
Graciously offered. Lovely Editha, 
Who needs but to be seen, to raise a flame 
Of fervent passion in brave Sithric's breast, 
Will soon lead the old warrior in her chains, 
An all too willing captive to her charms. 

ATHELSTAN. 

And you, my Lord of Essex, will with Kent, 
To aid him with your counsel, should the Dane 
Refuse consent to this our mild behest. 

ESSEX. 

I am your grace's servant, and in this, 
As in aught else, am ready to obey ; 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. ' 

But think, my liege, ere yet the die is cast, 
The evils that the Lady Editha 
May in this compact suffer, should her heart 
Decline to shed its sweets upon the Dane. 

TURKETAL. 

His grace hath well considered, noble Essex, 
All that your words imply ; but regal dames 
Must sacrifice those feelings that oft sway 
The minds of virgins of ignoble birth. 

ESSEX. 

Is't well, my lord, that you should thus advise? 
For, oh, bethink you, should aught evil fall 
Upon the head of that illustrious maid ; 
Should blighted hopes and sear'd affection fail 
To win for Britain peace, or should the Dane, 
Once wedded to fair Editha, forget 
The value of the jewel that is cast 
Forth from her native home, her gentle heart 
Would burst with pain and anguish, and the end 
Of all your hopes meet with unwholesome blight. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Believe us, gentle Essex, we have weigh'd 
The various arguments for and against 
This union of our sister and the Dane. 

ESSEX. 

'Tis well, my liege : I've said. My voice no more 
Shall raise its echo 'gainst thy policy — 
(Aside) Which rends my heart in twain with mad- 
dening grief ! 



8 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Adieu, my lords ! Then, when the morrow's sun 
Doth cast his rays o'er our fair mother earth, 
You'll hie you to the Dane, and mark him well, 
While you recount our offers of free grace ? 

KENT. 

We will, my liege. I humbly take my leave. 

ESSEX. 

Adieu, my liege. 

[Exit Athelstan, Turketal, and Kent. 

essex, (solus.) 
My curse on thee, Turketal, and thy craft ! 
For thee to live in vile, luxurious ease, 
The fair Editha must be offer'd up, 
A living sacrifice. Immortal Mars, 
Look down upon this sublunary sphere ! 
Behold how evil spirits walk the earth, 
And to exchange thy glorious wreaths for peace, 
Betray soft beauty to the foul embrace 
Of aged dotards, and thus rob the young 
Of all that makes life precious — dash the cup 
Of joy with the polluted bitterness 
Of earthly wealth and grandeur, whilst the heart 
Is robbed of its intrinsic worth, becomes 
A living sepulchre of transient joys, 
Whose fleeting moments cast o'er all the earth 
A glorious radiance, while their magic voice 
Was heard in every gently murmur'd sigh. 
Oh, Editha ! thou wonder of the world, 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 9 

And art thou doom'd to perish 'neath the shrine 

Of the old dotard's policy — become 

Nurse to an old, decrepit, feeble Dane ! 

Great God ! who rides amid the whirlwinds, blast 

Me with your thunderbolts, or rive the earth 

In countless atoms — render into chaos 

Earth, sea, and sky ; or bid the sun to shine 

No more upon creation's wondrous works ! 

For all will now in this torn breast be dark 

As midnight's solemn hour. [Exit. 

Enter Editha and Elgiva. 

ELGIVA. 

I pray you, madam, calm your troubled breast ; 
The king will surely listen to your prayers. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Elgiva, thou knowest not the power 
The great Turketal wields. Oh, Athelstan ! 
My brother and my king, what have I done, 
That I should thus be sacrificed ? Fond heart, 
Oh, lie you still, nor burst in twain with grief 
Ere I behold my Essex once again ! {Weeps.) 

ELGIVA. 

Oh, dearest madam, weep not thus. My eyes 
Are full to overflowing, and my heart 
So torn with rage and anguish, I could rend 
The cold heart out of old Turketal' s breast, 
And hurl it to the howling wolves, whose cries 
Are more melodious to my ears than are 
The tones of that old stern and craftv man ! 



10 ATHELSTAN. [act I. 

EDITHA. 

Alas ! my Elgiva, he has a power 
Within his subtle breast of bending all 
My kingly brother's passions to his will. 
Let him but say, Do this ! and lo ! 'tis done, 
Though heaven and earth alike forbid the deed ! 

(Enter Essex.) 
Oh, Essex ! "art thou come to cheer my heart, 
And bid me not despair ? Say, has the king 
Relaxed in cruel policy, and freed 
Me from that galling yoke of slavery, 
More dreadful than the fetters that entwine 
Around the outward form ? whose gnawing rends 
In twain the chords that bind us, heart to heart 
And soul to soul, in love's sweet sympathy ! 

ESSEX. 

Oh, thou much injured and oppressed fair, 
How shall I curb my tongue, how T teach my heart 
To stay its wonted gush of tenderness, 
Which rushes madly through my burning veins, 
Consuming in its course all obstacles 
That loyalty and honour should call forth 
From the recesses of my o'erwrought brain, 
And bid me fly thy presence ! I could weep 
And play the whining schoolboy till my tears, 
Like molten lead, coursed down my furrow'd cheeks, 
And burnt their way into my heaving breast, 
Robbing it of each particle of life 
That fell despair hath left. 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 11 

EDITHA. 

And must we part ? Oh, Essex ! can I live, 
And not again behold thee ! — never more 
Gaze on thy godlike form, read in thine eye 
The love thou bearest the wretched Editha ! 
And must we — must we part ? 

ESSEX. 

Great God, who rul'st the world, what have I done 
That thus I am chastised ? — whom have I wronged ? 
What wondrous deed of guilt lies on my soul, 
That I should thus be tortured ? Have I sinn'd 
Past all redemption ? — has my hand been steep'd 
In guiltless blood, or have I raised a blush 
On a pure virgin's cheek — destroy'd the hopes 
Of aged sire or widow'd matron — raised 
My voice against my country, king, or God ? 
How have I sinned, that thus all earthly hopes, 
At one fell swoop, should vanish from my sight, 
Leaving a sightless void, an endless night, 
Where all was bright, and beautiful, and clear, 
As early morning's dawn ? Oh, Editha ! 
Thou best and loveliest of thy gentle sex, 
For whom all nature weeps — in whose dear form 
Each grace resplendent shines ; in whose bright 

orbs 
The lovely sky's soft azure is express'd ; 
Whose cheeks outvie in beauty the sweet rose, 
Whose odorous fragrance fades beneath thy breath, 
More soft and balmy than the sweet perfume 
That rises from the rich and gay parterre. 



12 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

Oh, can I live 
And not again hear thy soft voice repeat, 
In tones of sweetest minstrelsy, my name, 
Whose magic lingers on my ravish'd ears, 
Bringing a world of joy into my heart 
Too great to be endured ! (Embraces her.) 

EDITHA. 

And must I teach my heart 
To stay its wonted beatings, and mine eyes 
To shun the lustre of thy sparkling orbs ! 
Oh, God ! this is too much. 

Why was I born 
To be the the idle sport of fortune ? — rear'd 
In princely halls, — each wish, ere form'd, drawn 

forth 
But to be gratified — my sinful self 
Held up to an admiring throng, as one 
Fit only to be worshipp'd, — now cast down 
Into the very depths of dire despair ! 

ESSEX. 

Alas, my love ! my heart's fond idol ; I 
Have lived too long — to see my darling hopes 
Dash'd from my fever' d lips : how can I cheer, 
Your drooping heart, when mine with fury burns 
At these your great and most unheard of wrongs ? 

ELGIVA. 

Madam, the king ! — behold, he comes this way. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, heavens, Essex ! whither will you fly ? 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 13 

ESSEX. 

Fear not for me, sweet Editha ; my life 

Is now not worth the keeping : I could die, 

And bless the hand that dealt the friendly stroke. 

editha. 
Oh, Essex ! you must live, — let not your blood 
Lie on my soul ! Oh, fly ! — I pray you, fly ! 

ESSEX. 

One last embrace, thou dear one, ere I go ; 
I would not lose it for ten thousand lives. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Essex ! noble, best beloved of men, 
Heaven's blessing rest upon you ! Fly — oh, fly ! 

(Embracing.) 

ESSEX. 

Dearest, I go ; may Heaven's choicest gifts 
Be shower'd in mercy o'er thy beauteous head ! 

[Exit. 

ELGIVA. 

See, madam — see ; they come ! Will you retire, 
Or will you here await my lord the king ? 

EDITHA. 

Alas, Elgiva ! I cannot retreat ; 

My limbs refuse their office. Ha ! he comes. 

(Sits down.) 

Enter Athelstan, Turketal, and Altheof. 

ATHELSTAN. 

You see, lord bishop, that our hopes are laid 



14 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

Upon a sure foundation : peace restored, 
Our islanders will flourish ; nature's stores 
Will flow in rich abundance o'er the earth, 
And bounteous Heaven smile upon our reign. 

ALTHEOF. 

Sure Heaven itself compassionates our isle, 
To send such thoughts into your royal breast ; 
Already do I see the bounteous earth, 
In rich luxuriance gladden every heart ; 
Methinks I gaze into the womb of time, 
And see the earth deck'd out with luscious corn, 
Whose waving fields, embrowned by the sun, 
Glittering like radiant gold, doth fill the heart 
With silent thankfulness, while lowing herds 
Graze on the vernal slopes, or playful skip 
Around the wide and lovely range of fields, 
Whose verdure 's deck'd with flowers of every hue, 
Shooting their slender stems toward the sky, 
Opening their golden petals to the sun, 
Whose rays dry up the moistening dew that falls, 
With night's dark mantle : oh, my gracious liege, 
Heaven grant my vision may prophetic prove ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Amen, my lord ! Let all our prayers ascend 
To Him who rules alike the heavens and earth, 
And all that lives within them. 

edith a, (rising.) 
My king, my brother, and my gracious liege, 
In mercy have some pity on your slave. (Kneels.) 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 15 

athelstan (assisting her to rise.) 
What would our beauteous sister, that she stoops 
To ask of us a favour ? 

EDITHA. 

What would I, Athelstan ? Oh, I would crave, 
In mercy and in pity's sake, a boon, 
Which you alone can grant ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Tis granted ere 'tis spoken, if it be 

A boon befitting us to grant, sweet maid. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, help me, Heaven, in this my utmost need ! 

ALTHEOF. 

Fear not, fair daughter ; Heaven's help is nigh, 
Whene'er its creatures seek its wondrous grace. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Dear Editha, this weakness is beneath thee. 
What mighty boon is this that thou wouldst crave? 

EDITHA. 

A mighty boon, indeed ! My liege, your sire 
Was also mine ; what have I done, that I 
Should forfeit all that appertains to me, 
From being born of an illustrious race ? 
And, like the daughter of a vulgar serf, 
Be offer'd to the highest bidder — placed 
In barter for that peace your arms should win, 
Or you should cease to be. 

ALTHEOF. 

Daughter, too long hath blood run o'er our land, 



16 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

In crimson streams ; too long hath man been 

train'd 
To slay his fellow man — enrich the earth 
With precious drops of life blood. Heaven, at last, 
Hath, in its boundless mercy, sent the king, 
Our great and royal master, forth to rear 
The palm leaf o'er this land of war and strife. 

EDITHA. 

That were, my lord, a great, a godlike deed, 

If justice led the way ; but if to heal 

A nation's woes, one heart is sacrificed, 

You do a certain evil, for a good 

Uncertain and unreal. Thou art a priest, 

Yet darest impiously to desecrate 

The might of the Most High — to raise the arm, 

And strike the heart that Heaven in mercy spares ? 

ALTHEOF. 

Pardon me, daughter, if my speech is plain, 
For I must urge this policy — I've laid 
My whole heart bare before his grace ; the king, 
The nobles, and the priesthood, all combine, 
To wish the realm at length may rest in peace, 
And thus recruit its wasted strength : thy hand 
Alone can heal the wounds so long diseased, 
And bring sweet peace and concord to our isle. 

EDITHA. 

All, all, have leagued against me! — heaven, and earth, 
And man, have all combined ; and what am I, 
A poor weak woman, in your powerful hands, 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 17 

To do, or say, to turn your stubborn wills ; 
Alas, there is no hope for me ! Come, Death ! 
Release me from the horrors of my fate. 

SCENE IT. — Saloon in Sithric's Castle, Northum- 
bria. — Sithric, Manfrid, and Wulfstan. 

sithric. 
I tell ye, lords, 

My power is fixed, in all Northumbria: 

Not Athelstan nor all his armed host 

Can hurl me from the summit I have gain'd ; 

Why should I yield, then, to the puny boy, 

And bow me down to court his languid smile ? 

Doth not my blood course through my fiery veins 

With equal ardour to the sluggish stream 

That animates his feeble form ? By Heaven ! 

I will be free as are the mountain wolves, 

Or else I'll be as naught : by this good blade, 

I'll carve me out a throne, whereon my race 

Shall rear its crowned head ; a diadem 

Shall grace my ample brow ; Northumberland 

Shall hail me as her king, and own my sway, 

Or Death shall claim me with my kindred dust. 

WULFSTAN. 

A bold resolve ; all hail, Northumbria's king! 

MANFRID. 

Sithric, all hail ! All hail, my liege and king ! 

SITHRIC 

Prepare ye, then, for war ! Let all your serfs 
Gird on their armour ; let their voices soar, 

c 



18 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I. 

High in the heavens ; let our name resound, 
O'er all our hills, and dales : nor Athelstan 
Be heard again, save as our deadly foe. 

(Enter Anlaf and Godfrid.) 

Welcome, my sons, to this our council ! We 
Have now resolved to set Northumbria free. 

ANLAF. 

Oh, this is glorious news ! Why should I bend 
And crouch before young Athelstan ? My soul 
Is fired with gen'rous ardour, and my sword 
Flies from the scabbard at the glorious thought — 
Northumbria shall be free ! 

Enter a Soldier. 

sithric 
How now, rude knave ? 

SOLDIER. 

My lord, ambassadors from Britain's king 
Await your lordship's presence. 

SITHRIC 

Ha ! what means this, friends ? 

Wulfstan, attend them ! Sirrah, canst thou tell 

The name these strangers bear ? [Exit Wulfstan. 

soldier. 
Two noble lords they are — Earls Kent and Essex. 

SITHRIC 

Enough — you may retire. [Exit Soldier. 

A gallant soldier is the noble Kent ; 

No trifling matter brings the old lord here. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 19 

Enter Wulfstan, Kent, and Essex. 

KENT. 

Hail, noble Sithric ! hail, Northumbria's chief! 

ESSEX. 

Most noble Sithric, hail to thee — all hail ! 

SITHRIC. 

Welcome, my lords — right welcome to our court ! 
How fares your liege, the royal Athelstan ? 

KENT. 

In peace and comfort Athelstan doth dwell, 
Surrounded by his court. His gen'rous soul 
Full long hath mourn'd o'er Britain's many woes ; 
And to assuage her griefs, dry up her tears, 
And heal the rancorous sores, that all too long 
Hath fester'd in her many gaping wounds, 
Hath sent the noble Essex, and myself. 
With friendly greeting, to Northumbria's chief. 

SITHRIC. 

What would the King of Britain? speak, brave Kent, 
Nor hide the shadow of one thought from us ! 

KENT. 

Oh, noble Sithric, fitter is my hand 
To wield the glittering blade, than is my tongue 
To speak soft words of love, or raise a flame 
Within a hero's breast, that should outvie 
In glory all the honours he has won ! 

SITHRIC. 

I pray you, noble Kent, explain your words. 

c2 



20 ATHELSTAN. [ACT 1. 

KENT. 

Thus saith the king to Sithric : Britain bleeds, 
The earth is moistened with the pure heart's blood 
Of her most worthy sons : t' allay the strife 
That all too long hath ruled o'er our fair isle, 
His grace holds out to Sithric the right hand 
Of godlike fellowship, proclaims him king 
Of all Northumbria, subject unto none, 
Save Britain's king, as suzerain and lord ; 
And to cement in one eternal bond 
Of love and friendship, this his gen'rous gift — 
He offers noble Sithric as a bride, 
The Princess Editha. 

ANLAF. 

Our sire already rules supreme ; why bend 
The knee to Britain's king ? 

sithric 
Peace, Anlaf — peace ! this offer likes me well ; 
I've heard the lady is most wondrous fair. 

essex (aside.) 
Now are my hopes all blighted ; he will grasp, 
Like menial serf, the glitt'ring bait thrown out ; 
And Editha is lost, — for ever, lost ! 

KENT. 

Fair as the morning sun, whose golden beams 
Cast a bright radiance o'er the azure sky : 
Bright as the verdure of Northumbrian hills, 
When deck'd in summer's beauty, are the charms 
Of peerless Editha : her voice is soft 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 21 

And silvery as the lark's, whose matin song 
Resounds o'er hill and dale ; her stately form, 
Is clothed in virgin modesty ; her face 
Beams with the roseate hue of health ; her eye 
Darts like a gleam of sunshine on the soul, 
Illuming, with its beams of lustrous light, 
All Nature's handiworks. 

SITHRIC. 

Now, by our hopes of joy, our soul is fired 
With fierce desire ; the hot blood courses through 
Our sinewy frame ! Good Kent, thou art possess'd 
Of youthful fervour in the maiden's praise I 

KENT. 

All praise, heroic Sithric, doth fall short 
Of her most rare deserts : a lovelier maid, 
Or one endow'd with more intrinsic worth, 
Ne'er gazed upon the sun. 

SITHRIC 

Withdraw with me, my lords : we'll ponder well 
O'er Athelstan's fair offer. 

[Exit Sithric, Kent, and Essex. 

ANLAF. 

What think you, lords, of this soft-hearted king ? 
Is't fit Northumbrian chief bow down to him 
And cringe, and fawn, and play the sycophant, 
Or waste his hours in idle dalliance — fall 
A willing victim to this treach'rous spy, 
Who'll come deck'd out in smiles, clothed with 
deceit, 



22 ATHELSTAN. [ACT I, 

To worm herself into her victim's heart, 
And learn his secret thoughts but to betray? 
Shame on the man who thus would barter all 
His hard-earn'd honour, pander to his lust, 
And rob his sons of their inheritance 
For woman's treach'rous smiles ! 

WULFSTAN. 

Nay speak not rashly, Anlaf ; this may prove 
A blessing to Northumbria, and may lead 
To safe and lasting peace. 

MANFRID. 

I would our chief had yielded to his son 
This w r ondrous Phoenix : youthful Editha 
Is far more fit to grace lord Anlaf's couch 
Than rest upon the gallant Sithric's breast. 

GODFRID. 

Such are my thoughts, brave Manfrid ; 'tis not fit 
That one so gentle should be sacrificed, 
To appease the wrath of men ! 

ANLAF. 

Our father seems delighted with the toy 
Held up to bribe him, to betray his sons 
By his most wily foe. 

GODFRID. 

Good brother, let us wait, 

And hear our sire's resolve, ere we condemn him. 

Enter Sithric, Kent, and Essex. 

sithric. 
My lords, we have decided. Noble Kent 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAIST. 23 

Will bear this answer back to Britain's king- 

Our days shall end in peace, war's turmoil cease, 

And even-handed justice mark our reign. 

In bonds of love we'll join us to the king; 

And may those bonds be lasting ! May those hopes 

Which Heaven, in mercy to our sinful race, 

Hath planted in the breast of Athelstan, 

Long live and flourish ! May this favour'd isle 

Recruit her wasted strength, and man once more 

Repose in tranquil peace ! 

KENT. 

Heaven grant it may be so ! 

SITHRIC. 

My lords, you'll tarry till the morning's dawn, 
Then speed you on your way. We will prepare 
A fitting escort for Northumbria's queen, 
Then hasten to the King of Britain's court, 
To claim our beauteous bride. 



ACT II. 

SCENE I. — Athelstan's Castle — Edith a 
and Elgiva. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, woe ! — oh, woe ! Elgiva, the old Dane 

Is all enraptured by our worthless charms. (Weeps.) 

ELGIVA. 

Alas ! alas ! dear lady, weep not thus. 



24 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, my Elgiva, would that I could rend 

In twain this bleeding heart ! Almighty powers ! 

Why was I born to be the scoff of fate — 

Thrust in the world in an untoward hour, 

'Mid fierce dissensions, to be offered up 

A victim to the state ? 

ELGIVA. 

Oh, 'tis a false and cruel policy, 

To offer one so young and guileless up 

Upon cold Mammon's altar ! 

EDITHA. 

Alas, my Elgiva ! how can I teach 

My bleeding heart to bend beneath the sway 

Of iron-hearted Sithric, whose stern frown 

Calls forth my soul's deep terror ; in whose eye 

The haughty fire of proud despotic will 

Blends with the frost of age, whose wrinkled brow 

Speaks volumes of the fire that burns within 

The soldier's rugged breast ? 

Enter Sithric, Wulfstan, Athelstan, 
and Altheof. 

ALTHEOF. 

Daughter, we have sought thee. 

Noble Dane, 
Behold the peerless maid. 

SITHRIC 

Oh, wondrous blaze of beauty ! I am dumb 
With great amaze ! 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 25 

ATHELSTAN. 

Why weepest thou, sweet sister ? Thy bright orbs 
Were form'd for love and joy — no tears should dwell 
In such a sweet abode. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Athelstan ! who is it calls them forth, (iveeps,) 
And bids them gush in torrents, till mine eyes 
Are darkened as my soul ? 

SITHRIC. 

Nay, beauteous trembler, weep not thus : behold, 
Thy slave kneels at thy feet ; speak thy commands, 
Nor rack my soul with torture by thy scorn. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, noble Sithric ! if thy gentle soul 
Another's woe can feel, and if thy heart 
Hath not become unmindful of the pangs 
That agitate and rend thy suppliant's breast, — 
I pray thee fly this court — release my heart 
From the uneasy thraldom forced upon it, 
And, with my latest breath, I'll bless thy name ! 

SITHRIC 

Oh, speak not thus, thou matchless, peerless maid! 
How can I teach my tongue to curb its will, 
And moderate my passion ? Gentle Heaven ! 
I thank thee for this priceless guerdon more 
Than all the blessings I have else received ! 

EDITHA. 

Thou wilt not, then, release my bleeding heart 
From all the galling chains that do entwine 
It in their deadly folds ! Oh, Athelstan, 



26 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

My brother, and my king — say, is it well 
That thou shouldst desecrate the name of God, 
And call this awful deed of sacrifice 
An offering unto peace, and in his name 
Barter a living soul — destroy the heart 
That fondly trusted in thee ? 

ATHELSTAN. 

Dear Editha, I marvel much that thou, 

So ever gentle, shouldst now raise thy voice 

In sweet complaining, and let grief o'erstep 

The bounds of virtuous prudence. Thou hast been 

Dear to my heart as are the rays of light 

That gild the azure sky to human eyes ; 

No thought of evil ever yet hath found 

A lurking place within thy breast — why fear 

The sweet communion love so fondly draws 

Around earth's creatures, blending into one 

The souls of those who love ? 

EDITHA. 

And darest thou thus to speak, and yet to cast 
Thy sister forth from all on whom her heart 
Hath placed its warm affections ? Thou art false 
To me and to thyself ! 

SITHRIC 

Oh, gentle lady, let my humble voice 

Plead for thy royal brother ! He has deigned 

To offer to our arms thy lovely form, 

Which soon shall grace Northumbrian queenly 

throne, 
And add new lustre to the crown that binds 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 27 

Thy lovely brow beneath its ample folds, 
Bringing the sweets of love to heal the wounds 
Of rancorous hatred, that too long hath dwelt 
O'er all our sea girt isle. 

EDITHA. 

'Tis an ill omen'd match ! The lion mates 
Not with the gentle lamb ; the eagle soars 
High in the changing clouds, nor bows him down 
To woo the humble dove ! Why, then, should man 
Prove false to Nature, and to Nature's laws — 
Destroy the budding hopes of woman's life, 
And wither all its joys beneath the frost 
Of an unequal and unholy match. 

SITHRIC. 

Believe me. fairest of thy lovely sex, 
No evil will befal thee ; thou shalt reign 
Supreme o'er us as o'er our subjects ; peace 
Shall send her soft and smiling handmaids forth 
To cast her garlands 'neath thy beauteous feet ; 
Earth shall outvie with man to bless the hour 
That gave thee to my faithful, loving arms. 

EDITHA. 

'Twere madness longer to attempt to plead 
For mercy or for pity ! If there dwells 
Within thy rugged breast one gen'rous thought, 
I pray you let its lustre 'light on me ! 

SITHRIC 

Heaven's blessings 'light on thee, thou lovely maid, 
For this much of sweet grace. My future days 
Will all be far too short to speak my thanks. 



28 ATHELSTAN". [ACT II. 

EDITHA. 

Mere idle words flow from the well trained tongue, 
As doth the gentle streamlet from its source, 
While man's fierce passions rest within his breast, 
As doth the pebbles 'neath the limpid stream, 
Which gently courseth in its time-worn bed, 
Till earth doth, in her wild convulsive throes, 
Lash the late gentle current into streams 
That rush and roar with maniac impetus, 
And in wild torrents hurls its foaming waves 
Into the mighty ocean which receives, 
Within its ample bosom, tribute streams, 
And bears them on in one wild rushing flood, 
Destroying in their fury all the hopes 
Of man, and robbing Nature of her charms — 
E'en so is it with man. Let anger rise, 
And rouse his fiery blood, nor love, nor joy, 
Can longer find a dwelling in his breast, 
But all is fierce and undissembled hate, 
Where late the goddess of sweet peace reposed, 
In all her tranquil charms. 

SITHRIC 

Be thine the task, sweet lady, then, to curb 

The fiery spirit that so long hath dwelt 

Within our native isle ; let thy sweet voice 

Be heard amid the warriors, who so long 

Have fought beneath our banners ; bid them cast 

Forth from their warlike hands the blood-stain'd 

sword, 
That far too long hath drank the crimson tide 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 29 

Of human life-blood, ebbing from the wounds 
That man inflicts on man ; their swords will fall 
In countless numbers at thy gentle feet. 

EDITHA. 

That were indeed a joy, the which to share 
I'd freely bare my bosom to the stroke 
Of Death, however questionable the guise 
In which he doth appear ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

That joy, then, be reserved for thee — thy life 
Be bless'd with sweet tranquillity ; our hopes, 
Sweet sister, rest alike on Heaven and thee. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, rash impious man, to join with Heaven 
The name of erring creatures ! Grant, sweet Heaven, 
That this poor heart may, as a sacrifice, 
Acceptable be deem'd. Oh, may the curse 
Of man's fierce passions be by this appeased ! 
And then, e'en though my aching heart should burst 
At the fair altar where 'tis offer'd up, 
It will not break in vain. 

SITHRIC 

Oh, rather mayst thou live 
To shed the glory of thy lustrous charms 
Around the evening of our waning days ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

And add new lustre to the princely line 

From which thou art descended. Gentle Heaven, 

And thou, blest Virgin, who doth rest on high, 



30 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

Seated amidst the cherubim, look down 
Upon this beauteous virgin, Britain's hope, — 
Pour down upon her head the choicest gifts 
That mortals are endow'd with ; be her name, 
In ages yet to come, immortalized, 
As fairest and as gentlest of her sex ! 
Oh, may her many godlike virtues be 
Enshrined in every honest Briton's heart, 
While sun and moon ride in the vaulted arch 
Of heaven's high and gorgeous canopy, 
In their majestic course ! 

[Exit Athelstan, Altheof, Editha, 
and Elgiva. 

sithric 
What think'st thou of our bride ? 

WULFSTAN. 

Think, my lord? 

SITHRIC. 

Why, man, what ails thee ? Thou repeat'st my 

words, 
And yet not answer'st them. 

What think'st thou of our bride ? 

WULFSTAN. 

My lord, she is an angel, in whose form 
Dame Nature hath all former works excell'd, 
And cast into the shade. 

SITHRIC 

Even so, good Wulfstan. Never did mine eyes 
Gaze on so much fair loveliness, mine ears 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 31 

E'er listen to such music, as doth fall, 
In tones of sweetest melody, from lips 
Too bright and glowing for a child of earth 
To gaze upon, and stay the fiery blood, 
That fierce desire doth cause to fill his veins 
With love's impassion'd flame ! 

WULFSTAN. 

My lord, she is a peerless paragon. 
I marvel that some noble of this court 
Hath not already won this priceless gem. 

SITHRIC 

To thee, my Wulfstan, on whose honest faith 

I may rely with safety, I will tell 

The hopes and fears that struggle in my breast, 

Each striving for the mastery. The maid 

Hath fallen a victim to the rosy god, 

Whose piercing shafts strike, with unerring aim, 

The humble and the mighty. In her breast 

There dwells a secret passion ; every word, 

Each look, each thought, reveals it ; I must seek 

To fathom her most secret thoughts. The slave 

Who dares to think of Editha must die, 

E'en though my own right hand should strike the 

blow. 
Could I but ease me of this incubus, 
And rid me of my rival, I might hope 
Sweet Editha would then become more calm, 
And hide her grief within her virgin breast ; 
Nor dim the lustre of her eyes with tears, 
That silently reproach us. 



32 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II 

WULFSTAN. 

But why, my lord, seek to unroll the scroll 
That fate hath placed within your ready grasp ? 
The maid secure, placed on Northumbrian throne, 
Why need you fear a rival in her heart, 
When all to whom she's known will tarry here, 
And she will hence with you ? 

SITHRIC. 

Oh, Wulfstan ! thou but little know'st the arts 
Of deep and damning subtlety, that lead 
The Saxon through all dangers to the goal 
Of his most ardent wishes. I must find 
My rival in the heart of Editha, 
And slake my burning thirst for vengeance, ere 
The flame doth in its fury quite devour 
The passion that o'ercomes me. 

WULFSTAN. 

My lord, I must condemn thee ; for in thus 
Seeking for causes which have no effect, 
We trifle with Dame Fortune, who, in spleen, 
Perchance may cast us off, and lend her smiles 
To those who more deserve them. 

{Enter Essex.) 
{Aside) My lord, please you retire : 

I'll question him. 

SITHRIC 

'Tis well, my lord. Our orders you'll attend ? [Exit. 

WULFSTAN. 

How now, my lord ! — what ! musing ? 

Or are thy thoughts all soaring in the clouds ? 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 33 

ESSEX. 

What busy fool art thou that, like a jay, 
Doth freely chatter ? 

WULFSTAN. 

My good lord Essex, if methought those words 
Were meant for Wulfstan's ear 

ESSEX. 

Ha, Wulfstan ! is it thou ? My thoughts were far 
From thee when thus I spoke. 

WULFSTAN. 

Enough, my lord • I could not deem these words 
Were meant to greet mine ear, or by this light 
Thou hadst not spoke again. 

ESSEX. 

Tut, man — no threats ! — my hand will else be found 
Ready as thine to curb too free a speech. 

WULFSTAN. 

My lord, I were right loth to be the first 
To burst the bonds of peace, so lately form'd 
Between the King of Britain and my Chief, 
By any private brawl. 

ESSEX. 

I dare be sworn, good Wulfstan, that thy hand 
Would rather wield a sword than sign a bond 
That seals thy boasted freedom, and enthrals 
Northumbria's sons once more in Britain's toils, 
E'en though that bond secured Northumbrian chief 
A young and lovely bride. 

D 



34 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

wulfstan, (aside.) 
By heaven and earth, 'tis he 
That fain would win the maiden to his arms ! 
(To Essex.) In troth, Lord Essex, thou hast guess'd 

my thoughts : 
Northumbria will not gain much by this match, 
So hastily arranged. 

ESSEX. 

I tell thee, Dane, this peace will end in strife, 

More deadly than the fiercest war that e'er 

Hath cursed this isle of ours. The untried king 

Looks not in the far distance, as becomes 

A prince of quick discernment: he but sees 

The present ; while the future all to him 

Is dark and undistinguishable chaos. 

Now, mark the sequel. Nature's most just laws 

Forbid this cruel sacrifice ; the maid, 

Whose beauty dazzles Sithric, and destroys 

His sober judgment, that should bid him pause, 

Ere he consents to bend his noble knee 

In fealty to the king, is most unmeet 

To match with aged Sithric ; her young heart 

Is all attuned to love, and 'tis not fit 

That one so young and fair, whose gentle soul, 

In just abhorrence, shudders at the thought 

That such an ill-starr'd union conjures up, 

Should thus be sacrificed. 

Rather should the wolf 

Herd with the gentle fawn, the lion play 

In love's soft dalliance with the timid lamb, 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 35 

Than valiant Sithric cease to soar, and cast 
His noble form down on the earth, to woo 
The beauteous Editha. 

WULFSTAN. 

By Heaven, Lord Essex, there is much of truth 
In thy discourse ! Perchance, the peerless maid 
Already hath been wooed and won ! Her heart, 
In all its virgin purity, would fall 
An easy conquest to some daring youth, 
Brave, noble, as thyself. 

ESSEX. 

Nay, Wulfstan, an' thou wouldst with prying eyes 

Dive into her heart's secrets, I refer 

You to the lovely maid. 'Twere a vain boast 

To say that I possess her confidence, 

And base, e'en if I did so, to betray it. 

WULFSTAN. 

Nay, gentle Essex, heed me not ; I spoke 
In words unmeasured, but methinks our views 
In this unlook'd for union are alike 
Strongly opposed. 

ESSEX. 

Thy views I know not ; but I tell thee, Dane, 
I'd rather that the sun no more shouldst shed 
Its genial warmth around us, that the moon 
Should cease to give her light, the myriad stars 
For ever cease to shine, the azure sky 
Become one undistinguishable mass 
Of solemn darkness, than thy chieftain wed 
The lovely Editha ! [Exit Essex. 

d 2 



36 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II, 

WULFSTAN. 

Tis even so ; his heart is most intent, 

On his fair lady-love ; yet there is trnth 

In what his tongue hath utter'd. Sithric bends 

In weak submission to the puny king, 

Whose peaceful disposition well might lead 

To Northumbrian independence. 

SCENE II. — ^4 Saloon in Sithric's Castle — 
Anlaf, Godfrid, and Manfrid. 

ANLAF. 

Twice hath the sun run his diurnal course ; 
Twice hath the moon shed her soft mellow light 
O'er all our native hills ; twice hath the earth 
Resumed its wonted glories, since our sire 
Advised us, by brave Manfrid, to prepare 
To welcome his return — ay, and to greet, 
Northumbria's youthful queen. 

manfrid. 
No marvel that King Sithric hath forgot 
Northumbria's barren hills, when beauty rests 
Within his warlike arms ; nathless, my lord, 
This youthful Hebe, that hath won his heart, 
And so enthrall'd his senses, that he sleeps 
In sweet forgetfulness, will so enslave 
Our gallant chief in love's enticing toils, 
That we shall all fall victims to the craft 
Of old Turketal, who now guides the helm 
Of Britain's stately barque. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 37 

GODFRID. 

Manfrid, thy speech but ill becomes the tongue 
That oft swore truth and fealty to our sire : 
Nor will I tamely stand, and hear thy spleen 
Thus vent itself in malice ; the princess 
Who hath become our queen, let her deserts 
Be judged ere we condemn her. 

ANLAF. 

Brother, I know thy nature is so soft, 

That beauty must be ever held by thee 

In secret worship ; e'en though every charm 

Dame Nature hath bestow'd, bring forth a snake, 

Whose venom would annihilate thy race. 

GODFRID. 

Anlaf, 
Thou art my father's son, else would these words 
Have sounded thy death-knell. 

ANLAF. 

Ha, sayst thou so, rash boy! — know that my sword 
Has edge as keen as thine ; beware, beware — 
Tempt me not to chastise thee ! 

godfrid, {draws.) 
Now, by the ashes of my ancestors, 
That taunt shall cost thee dear ! 

anlaf, {draws.) 
Come on, then, sir — come on ! 

manfrid, (parts them.) 
Nay, good my lords, put up your swords, weak 
words 



38 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

Should not destroy the bond that Nature cast 
Around you at your birth. 

ANLAF. 

Thou'rt right, good Manfrid. Godfrid, we may need 
To draw our weapons in a nobler cause. 

GODFRID. 

Why did you taunt me, then ? you know my soul 

Is fiery as thine own. 

[A flourish of trumpets heard. 

ANLAF. 

Here comes our sire, and with him the fair toy 
He has bartered for a crown. 

Enter Sithric, Wulfstan, Editha, Elgiva, and 
Soldiers. 

ANLAF. 

Hail to thee, sire ! and thou, fair princess, hail ! 

godfrid. 
Welcome, sweet princess, to our home and hearts ! 

SITHRIC 

Thanks, thanks, my sons, for this our welcome ! 

broach 
Choice liquors in abundance ; let our halls 
Resound with mirthful joy ; throw open wide 
Our cells and dungeons ; let each heart rejoice ; 
Bid Sorrow cease to hold her dismal court 
In all our broad domains ! 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 39 

EDITHA. 

Brave scions of a royal house, accept 
Our thanks for this reception. 

godfrid, (aside.) 

Oh, wondrous sight! 
anlaf, (aside.) 
Sure beauty never yet did equal this ! 

SITHRIC 

Come, Editha, my sweet one ! Let your smiles 
Illume our royal halls. Come hither, boys, 
And bend thy knees in fealty to thy queen ! 

anlaf, (kneeling.) 
Most gracious queen, accept my faith and troth ! 

godfrid, (kneeling.) 
And mine, sweet lady ! (Kisses her hand.) 

EDITHA. 

Rise, good my lords, I pray you ; we accept 
Your fealty as a token of your truth ! 

manfrid, (kneels.) 
And mine, illustrious lady — at your feet 
I humbly pledge my troth ! 

SITHRIC 

Come, my sweet love, we will retire ! Anon, 
We'll meet our gallant chiefs, whose loyalty 
And faith we may rely on. 

[Exit Sithric, Editha, Elgiva, and Soldiers. 



40 ATHELSTAN. [ACT II. 

GODFRID. 

Like a sweet vision hath she passed away, 
And left an endless void ! 

ANLAF. 

Tis said, the Serpent tempted Mother Eve 
To eat forbidden fruit ; an' he had borne 
A female form, in truth I should have deem'd 
He had return'd again to lead the way 
To our good sire's undoing ! 

GODFRID. 

Still wilt thou harp upon that tuneless string ! 

ANLAF. 

And so wouldst thou, good brother, wert thou next 
Our father in succession ! 

GODFRID. 

By Heaven, 'tis false ! I would not raise my voice 
To cause one sigh to ruffle the fair breast 
Of that angelic creature — though all earth 
Hung on the single breath, or that one word 
Would save the universe — if that it cast 
One single ray of gloom o'er the fair face 
Of beauteous Editha ! 

ANLAF. 

Godfrid, thou art inconstant as the winds 

To thy own welfare ! [Exit Anlaf and Manfrid. 

GODFRID. 

Hold still, thou beating heart. What can this mean? 

Am I so base, so utterly depraved, 

To love my father's wife. Oh, gentle Heaven ! 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 41 

Look down upon thy creature ; crush the fiend 

That doth invade my heart, and hurl him forth, 

With all the guilty thoughts he would engender 

And whisper in my willing ears ! That form, 

So rich in gorgeous beauty, doth outvie 

And dwindle into ciphers all the rest 

Of Nature's handiworks ! when shall mine eyes 

E'er gaze upon these lustrous charms again ? 

Oh ! 'tis a most unholy sacrifice, 

To hide such wondrous charms beneath the frost 

Of my good father's age : sweet Editha, 

My soul doth melt in pity for the wrongs 

Inflicted by the cowardice of man 

On thy angelic form, which thy fair breast 

In silence must endure till nature fails, 

And death doth claim the spoil. 



Twelve Months are supposed to elapse between 
the Second and Third Acts. 



ACT III. 
SCENE I. — Athelstan's Castle 

Athelstan, (solus.) 

Strange murmurs are abroad ; what dire mischance 
Hath thus destroy'd our hopes of tranquil peace ? 

Enter Turketal. 
What news, Lord Chancellor ? 



42 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 

TURKETAL. 

Oh, my dread liege ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Why falters thus thy tongue ? 
Hath aught of evil happen'd to the state, 
That turns thy cheek thus pale ? 

TURKETAL. 

Sithric, Northumbrian king. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Ha ! What of the gallant Dane ? 

TURKETAL. 

Death hath been busy — Sithric is no more ! 
Northumbria is in arms ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Oh, thou ill harbinger, what may this mean ? 
Who heads this foul revolt ? — Dare Sithric's sons 
Deny our just supremacy, and hurl 
Defiance in our teeth ? 

TURKETAL. 

Even so, my liege. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Then shall chastisement follow ; they shall learn 
What 'tis to trifle thus with us : our arms 
Shall teach these recreant slaves what 'tis to beard 
The lion in his den. 

TURKETAL. 

Your grace will then at once accept the gage 
These traitors have thrown down ? 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 43 

ATHELSTAN. 

Turketal, we have striven hard for peace ; 
Nay, more, we've made a living sacrifice, 
And yet it doth avail not ; let our wrath 
Be measured by our wrongs. 

TURKETAL. 

Then shall the Danes in sorrow curse the hour, 
When first they did rebel. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Our sister must be cared for ; let brave Kent 
Demand her at their hands. 

TURKETAL. 

My liege, I fly to execute at once 

All thy commands in full. [Exit Turketal. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Then was our dream no idle fantasy 

Of a disorder'd brain. The beauteous earth, 

So lately garnish'd with all nature's sweets, 

Methought was all environ'd by a cloud 

Whose dark'ning shadows flung a dingy mist 

O'er all earth's loveliness ; anon it rose, 

And fled before the sun's illumin'd rays, 

And as it faded in thin air, exposed 

The barren earth, satured with human gore ; 

While heaps of slaughter'd wretches fill'd the air 

With noisome pestilence — their gaping wounds 

Were each supplied with tongues, that cried aloud 

To Heaven for vengeance ; while our rivers ran 

In gushing streams of human blood, till all 



44 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III, 

Fair ocean's waves were by the crimson tide 
Polluted and defiled. 

(Enter Essex.) 



To cast the horrors of the coming strife 



Oh, Essex, art thou come 
:s c 
Upon our policy ? 

ESSEX. 

My liege, it would but ill befit my tongue 
To speak rank words of treason. I have heard 
King Sithric is no more ; his rebel sons 
Have raised Rebellion's standard. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Beshrew me, noble Essex, but thy doubts 
Have quickly come to pass. 

(Enter Kent.) 

Oh, Kent ! again the blood of man must flow, 
To crush unheard of treason. The fierce Danes 
Have lost their new-made king ; and ere the tomb 
Hath closed its portals o'er his cold remains, 
They've raised the standard of revolt, deny 
Allegiance to their king, who placed a crown 
Upon their chieftain's brow ! 

(Enter a Soldier.) 

How now, soldier ? 

SOLDIER. 

Lord Manfrid craves an audience with your grace 
On matters of import. 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 45 

ATHELSTAN. 

A herald from the Danes ! Bid him approach, 

[Exit Soldier. 

Enter Manfrid and Turketal. 

MANFRID. 

Great king, I am commission'd here to bear 
Sad tidings to your grace. 

ATHELSTAN. 

My lord, we've heard, and sorrow'd at the news — 
Our brother is no more. 

MANFRID. 

The spirit of the vet'ran king now dwells 
In Anlafs royal breast. 

ATHELSTAN. 

We've heard from idle rumour, thy young chief 
Hath sent his heralds far and wide to bear 
These tidings to his serfs. 

MANFRID. 

King of Britain, royal Anlaf claims 
Northumbria as his birthright; her brave sons 
Are Anlafs subjects, and the slavish term 
Of serf befits them not. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Say to lord Anlaf thus : — His honour'd sire 
We placed upon Northumbria's throne ; his son 
Must pay a subject's homage, ere we grace 
Him with the regal crown. 



46 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 

MANFRID. 

Thus saith my liege, King Anlaf, in reply : 
No homage will we pay ; our princely sire 
Was basely bribed his country to betray ! 
Peace to his manes ! posterity will cast 
The blame where 'tis most due. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Then, by our father's throne, we will repay 
This treason to his cost ! 

MANFRID, 

King Anlaf bade me say the widow'd queen 
Is an incumbrance to Northumbrian court. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Peace, foul-mouth'd rebel ! get thee from our sight ! 

MANFRID. 

Nay, King of Britain, I but speak the words 
Of Anlaf, my liege lord. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Bear back this answer to thy rebel chief: 
Thus saith his liege and king — the die is cast ; 
Our hungry wolves are loosed, our swords 

unsheathed — 
All Britain is in arms. Ourself will lead 
Our warriors to the north, there to chastise 
This traitorous insolence. 

MANFRID. 

Come when thou wilt, doubt not we will greet thee 
With a most warm reception. [Exit. 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 47 

ATHELSTAN. 

Ha ! sayst thou so ? — thy courage we will try, 
E'en to its utmost limits. Noble lords, 
Each to your duty ! Kent, thy path's beset 
With many dangers, yet we know thy name 
Is in itself a host ; the trait'rous Danes 
Will scarce molest the escort that doth guard 
Our sister to our court. 

KENT. 

My liege, I'll take with me a force shall strike 
The traitors dumb with fear. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Turketal, on thee now devolves the care 
Of our internal state : ourself will lead 
Our army to chastise these rebel Danes. 
Essex, thou wilt arouse the warlike bands 
Of Britain's gallant sons, and at their head 
Prepare to march with us to Brunsbury! 

[Exit Athelstan and Turketal. 

ESSEX. 

Sure never joy e'er equall'd mine — once more 
My soul is free as mountain air ; my brain 
Whirls through my burning head ; my bounding 

heart 
Beats fiercely 'gainst my lab'ring breast ! Sweet 

Heaven, 
On bended knee, I thank thee ; so much bliss 
Can scarcely be endured ! 



48 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 



SCENE II. — Saloon in Sithric's Castle, North- 
umbria. — Edith a and Elgiva. 

editha. 
Oh, whither shall I turn ? 
Within, stern Death doth hold his dismal court — 
Without, wild tumult reigns. Oh woe — oh woe ! 
Why was I ever born ? ( Weeps.) 

elgiva. 
I pray your grace be calm ; excess of grief 
Is most unseemly in the sight of Heaven. 

editha. 
What hath a wretch like me to do with Heaven ? 

ELGIVA. 

Oh, dearest madam, speak not thus ! — my heart 
Is racked to see you. 

EDITHA. 

Why do you not, then, leave me ? — all have fled 
To join mine enemies! Why do you not 
Worship the rising sun, and leave me here 
Alone, to weep and die ? 

ELGIVA. 

Oh ; my dear mistress ! now indeed I fear 
That grief hath turned thy brain ! 

EDITHA. 

Oh, would it had ! sure madness would be bliss 
Compared to woe like mine. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 49 

ELGIVA. 

Dear madam, say not so ; your griefs will find 
Relief you little dream of. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Elgiva ! thou fain wouldst bid me hope, 
When hope is all in vain. Sure Heaven hath pour'd 
Its phial of wrath upon our sinful head. 

ELGIVA. 

See you no ray of light amid the gloom 
Of the dark horizon ? Mine eyes are free 
And more inured to darkness ; I discern 
A far off ray of dazzling hue. Behold, 
The clouds are quickly passing from my view, 
And all is bright and glowing ! Now the sun 
Bursts forth in fiery flames, its genial warmth 
Dries up the hazy atmosphere — the sky, 
Which, lately louring, gloomed so terrific, 
Is now one field of azure blue ! All earth 
Teems with its luscious fruits ; you wander forth 
In ecstasy to gaze upon the scene. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, thou false prophetess ! 

ELGIVA. 

Not so, my queen. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, why hast thou again, at one fell swoop, 
Crush'd every ray of hope. 

ELGIVA. 

Dear madam, hear me. In the dismal clouds, 

E 



50 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 

Which rose before my vision, I beheld 
The royal Sithric, who is now no more ; 
And as he passed away, the ray of light 
That beamed in the far distance, and at length 
Banished the darkness from the clearing sky, 
Assumed a human form, and as it came 
Nearer and nearer to mine eager gaze, 
I recognised lord Essex, in whose eyes 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Heavens ! 

ELGIVA. 

There beam'd a true and soul-entrancing flame, 
Which dried the fount of sorrow at thy heart, 
And gladdened it with joy — which made the earth 
And heavens appear to thy enraptured gaze 
More beautiful, than ere his noble heart, 
Rich in the fervour of his virtuous love, 
Had been severely tried ! 

EDITHA. 

Oh, thou deceitful minister of joy- 
Too great to be endured ! 

(Enter Godfrid.) 

What means this rude intrusion ? Must our grief 
And sorrows thus be gazed upon by eyes 
Which Nature's laws, at least, should fill with tears 
As sacred as our own ? 

godfrid. 
Lady, my steps were hither bent to seek, 
In solitude, some solace to the woe 
That rankles in my breast, and not to break 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 51 

Upon thy silent sorrows. I knew not 
You were in this apartment, or my feet 
Should not have enter'd here. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Godfrid, thou wert ever gentle — kind, 
To us and to thy sire. Alas, not so 
Was thy stern brother, Anlaf ! yet we hear 
You aid him now in treason to his king ; 
And ere thy father rests within his tomb 
You cast obloquy on his honour'd name, 
And call down Heaven's vengeance on the land 
That thus impiously is desecrated 
By thy stern brother's pride, and raise a storm 
Of warring passions in the breast of man, 
Which, ere it shall subside, will cause to flow 
Man's blood in crimson streams. 

GODFRID. 

'Tis in thy power, sweet lady, to revoke 
My sinful promise, if there be a sin 
In such a promise made. 

EDITHA. 

Thy words bring comfort to my heart, good youth. 
How can I aid thee in a cause so just, 
And thus arrest the horrors that appear 
Impending o'er our heads ? 

GODFRID. 

My brother without aid from me would fail, 
Nor dare to cope alone with Britain's king. 
This he well knows, and to ensure my aid, 

e 2 



52 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 

With all the host of friends who wait my nod, 
Hath purchased my good will by offering me 
A fair partition of Northumbrian lands, 
With honours that shall place me on a throne 
More lasting than his own. 

EDITHA. 

And wilt thou now withdraw thee, and renounce 
This treasonable intent ? 

GODFRID. 

This will I do — nay, more ; I will submit, 
And bend the knee to kingly Athelstan ; 
Become a faithful subject to his grace, 
And calm Northumbria down again to peace ; 
Make Anlaf bend his stubborn will, and peace 
Restore to all the land. 

EDITHA. 

And canst thou do all this ? 

GODFRID. 

I can, and will ; but must have meet reward 
For such a sacrifice. 

EDITHA. 

Trust me, thou shalt ! Our brother will not fail 
To recompense thy deeds. 

GODFRID. 

Nay, 'tis to thee, dear lady, I must look 
For my great recompence. 

EDITHA. 

Alas, good youth ! it is not in our power 

E'er to reward thee, save with countless thanks. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 53 

GODFRID. 

Dear lady, you much wrong yourself, to doubt 
The potency of thy most wondrous charms ! 

EDITHA. 

What mean you, good my lord ? It is not meet 
Such words should greet our ears. 

GODFRID. 

Oh, say not so, sweet Editha ! My heart 
Bows down in silent worship to the charms 
Of thy angelic beauty. Thy sweet voice 
Falls on mine ear in magic tones, that fill 
My soul with all the fierceness of desire, 
To claim thee as mine own. 

EDITHA. 

What ! darest thou thus to desecrate alike 
The laws of God and man — to cast thine eye 
With foul unnatural longings on the form 
Of thy dead father's wife, ere yet the tomb 
Hath closed its portals o'er his cold remains ? 
Darest thou do this, yet live ? 

GODFRID. 

Nay, sweet one, judge not rashly ! My good sire, 
Absorb'd in his own selfishness, forgot 
That Nature would revolt, if her just laws 
By him were all revoked. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, shameful ! Most unnatural are thy thoughts — 



54 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III. 

Surpassing in their turpitude all else 
That ever yet we heard. 

GODFRID. 

Nay, thou art over sensitive, sweet love ! — 
You wrong yourself and me. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, thou incestuous beast ! Unnatural son, 

Whose thoughts degrade the godlike form of man, 

I marvel that thou fearest not to speak 

Thy dreadful thoughts aloud ! Is there no God, 

Whose ear is ever open, and whose eye 

Doth read thy sinful thoughts — whose anger roused, 

Would crush thee in thy guilt? Ye Heavenly 

Powers ! 
In mercy look upon this sinful wretch, 
And turn his guilty thoughts ! 

[Editha attempts to retire, when Godfrid seizes her 
dress, and flings himself at her feet. 

GODFRID. 

Oh, leave me not in anger, gentle queen — 
Hope of my heart, and idol of my soul ! 
Turn not thine eyes away ; let not thine heart 
Condemn my ardent nature ! I have striven 
And struggled 'gainst this soul-devouring flame, 
Which, in its fiery course, consumeth all 
The gentler passions of my tortured breast, 
Since first the hour you came across my path, 
Like to a beam of heavenly light, to cheer 
This dreary world, as doth the morning's sun 



SCENE II,] ATHELSTAN. 55 

Illume the vaulted arch of yon bright sky, 
And chase away the sombre hue of night ; 
And yet it hath avail'd not. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, rather would I die, 
Than listen to thy suit, or lend my soul 
To such unrighteous thoughts ! Come, Elgiva, 
We will retire, and on our bended knees, 
Implore Heaven's mercy for this lustful wretch, 
Whose guilt is far too great for man to bear ! 
Farewell, unhappy man ! 

GODFRID. 

Thou shalt not leave me thus, though earth and hell 
Conspire to my undoing. 

EDITHA. 

Not leave thee ? Sir, unhand me ! We have heard 

Thy lips already utter that should make 

Earth tremble 'neath thy footsteps. Off, sir ! — off! 

GODFRID. 

By hell ! thou shalt not go 

Till thou hast listened to my ardent prayer, 

E'en though you slay me with your bitter scorn. 

ELGIVA. 

Unhand the queen, or our loud cries shall raise 
The castle to her rescue ! 

Enter Anlaf and Man f rid. 

ANLAF. 

What ! is our gentle mother casting lures, 



56 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III, 

To catch thee in her meshes ? Sweet, methinks, 
Our royal father's memory might hold 
A place within thy breast, till death's cold sweat 
Had ceased to rest upon his cold remains. 

EDITHA. 

Anlaf, for once we welcome thy approach 
With tears of heartfelt joy. 

ANLAF. 

Nay, madam, trouble not thyself to frame 

Soft words to greet our ears ! We heed them not. 

EDITHA. 

Thy heart, we know, is like an uncut flint, 
Which needs must be oft struck, ere it emit 
One single spark of fire ; and yet thy words 
Are far more pleasing to our ears than those 
Thy brother spoke but now. 

[Exit Editha and Elgiva. 

ANLAF. 

What means all this ? hast thou and the fair dame 
Been bandying loving words ? Thy very looks 
Betray the inward workings of a mind 
But ill at ease. 

GODFRID. 

Let it not trouble you — I heed her not. 

ANLAF. 

Nay, an' thou dost, small import wert to me, 
For ere to-morrow's sun sinks in the west, 
She quits Northumbrian halls. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 57 

GODFRID. 

So soon ? 

ANLAF. 

Ay, Godfrid ; and methinks 'twere none too soon, 
If we would save thee from her treach'rous wiles. 

GODFRID. 

You wrong her, Anlaf — grossly, foully wrong her ; 
I marvel that you speak thus wantonly 
Of her our father loved. 

ANLAF. 

Brother, I hate her ; from the very hour 
Our father sold my birthright, I did loathe 
This prototype of Eve ! 

GODFRID. 

Unmanly and unjust, to cast the blame 
Upon the fair Editha ; let it rest 
Upon her brother's head 

ANLAF. 

Enough of this ! How look'd the king (to Manfrid) 
As you declared our purpose ? 

MANFRID. 

More like a hero than we yet have deem'd him. 

ANLAF. 

Well, let him come, we'll greet him and his force 
With a most warm reception, and thus show 
The spirit of our warlike sire yet dwells 
In Northumbria's gallant sons. 

(Enter Oscar and Glendig.) 

Welcome, brave princes, to our father's halls ! 



58 ATHELSTAN. [ACT III 

Right gladly do we welcome such brave friends 
To this our humble court. 

GLENDIG. 

Happy the king, who, like thy royal sire, 

Doth leave a son, like thee, brave prince, to wear 

The crown he hath bequeathed thee ! 

ANLAF. 

Say, gallant princes, is it meet, that we 
Should forfeit our just rights, and humbly bend 
Our knee in fealty to fair Britain's king, 
For that which is our birthright ? 

OSCAR. 

No, by the good Saint David ! Royal prince, 
I would not yield to Athelstan one jot, 
But claim at once thy crown, as doth become 
The son of thy brave sire. 

ANLAF. 

Already have we flung in Britain's teeth 
The gauntlet of defiance ; armed hosts 
Are marching hither, headed by the king ; 
And his resolve is now to crush our power, 
Ere 'tis concentrated. 

OSCAR. 

What power have you to stay him on his march, 
Or meet him in the field ? 

ANLAF. 

Five hundred men-at-arms 
Already are in motion ; on our hills 
The beacon fires will cast a lurid glare, 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 59 

Whose bright reflection will at once arouse 

Some fifteen hundred more, who do await, 

With most impatient zeal, to hear the cry, 

" Northumbrians, to arms I" which shall resound, 

And send its echoes far and wide, to bear 

The welcome news the moment they approach 

The town of Brunsbury. 

GLENDIG. 

'Tis well, brave Anlaf ; we ourselves can bring 
Five hundred well-tried warriors to the field, 
Fully equipp'd for action, and whose breasts 
Are panting for the fray. 

ANLAF. 

Thanks, gallant princes ; victory is sure, 
With such a noble host ; we'll seek the foe, 
And give him instant battle, should he dare 
To meet us in the field. 



ACT IV. 

SCENE I. — Field in Northumberland. 

(Flourish of Trumpets.) 

Enter Athelstan, Essex, Soldiers, &c. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Here halt we for the night ! Good Essex, see 
Our tent securely guarded. Let our spies 
Proceed to gain intelligence. Ourself 



60 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

Will now retire awhile ; let our brave hosts 
Seek that repose they need. 

[Exit Athelstan, Soldiers, fyc. 

ESSEX. 

Oh, thou dread Spirit, whose all-seeing eye 
Doth gaze upon this scene, in mercy, spare 
The royal Athelstan ! let no rash hand 
Deprive our king of life — that precious gift 
Which thou alone bestow'st ! Oh, guard his life 
In the forthcoming strife ; let victory fall 
Upon our warlike arms, and save this land 
From years of deadly fray. 

(Enter Cedric) 

How now, good Cedric ? 
What welcome news hast thou wherewith to greet 
My ears, that thus you leave the bivouac fire, 
To wander forth alone ? 

CEDRIC 

My lord, there is a harper who hath gained 
Access into our camp ; our gallant troops 
With joy are all elated, as his voice 
In tones of deepest pathos doth awake 
The merry roundelay. 

ESSEX. 

Some villain spy, who, in a minstrel's garb, 
Hath entered thus our camp. Cedric, thine eye 
Is like the eagle's, and thy courage tried ; 
Watch thou this minstrel well — ay, and detain him, 
Should he attempt to leave the camp ere I 
Have probed his purpose well. 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 61 

CEDRIC. 

My lord, an' he doth leave the camp, he'll march 
O'er my dead body first. 

ESSEX. 

I know thee, gallant soldier, well, nor fear 
To trust him to thy care. 

CEDRIC. 

Thanks, noble lord. May Heaven's curse light on 

me, 
When I betray my trust ! [Exit Cedric. 

ESSEX. 

Once more I live and breathe — 

Once more the warm blood courseth through my 

veins 
With wild impetus. Oh, thou lovely queen, 
Arbiter of my destiny, what joys 
Are yet in store for Essex ! Heaven itself 
Hath dealt this stroke of justice, to restore 
The beauteous Editha to roseate health, 
And animate once more with life and joy 
My long oppressed breast. [Exit. 

SCENE II. — Another part of the Field — Anlaf, 
as a Minstrel, and Soldiers carousing. 

FIRST SOLDIER. 

Come, pledge us, minstrel, in the wassail bowl ! 

SECOND SOLDIER. 

Nor fear to drain it to the lowest peg. 



62 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

ANLAF. 

Brave soldiers, here's your health ; may victory 
Rest on your arms, or mine ! (Aside. — Drinks.) 

Enter Essex. 
How now, sir knave ! what dost thou in our camp ? 

ANLAF. 

Most worthy sir, I come to pass an hour 
Around the bivouac fire, and cheer my heart, 
By gazing on these warriors' burnish'd arms, 
Which, to my mind, recals back days of yore, 
When in my early youth I joyful troll'd 
The merry roundelay. 

ESSEX. 

An' thou art skill'd in minstrelsy, I'll find 
A king to listen to thee. 

ANLAF. 

Thanks, noble sir ; I'm late from Scotia's court, 
Where oft I've troll'd my lay to Constantine, 
And ta'en a princely guerdon from the hands 
Of Scotia's lovely queen ! 

ESSEX. 

Sayst thou so ? — follow me ! 

[Exit Essex and Anlaf. 

First Soldier. 
Good comrades, this is scarcely fair, to take 
Our boon companion from us. 

Second Soldier. 
Nay, heard you not the words Lord Essex spoke ? 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 63 

Perchance he'll lead the minstrel to the king, 
And give him a rich guerdon. 

cedric, (aside.) 
I know him well, and I will watch him, too; 
For there is mischief lurking in his eye, 
That bodes the king no good. I've served his sire, 
And cannot now betray the son, yet stay 
The purport of his visit to our camp. 



SCENE III. — Interior of Athelstan's Tent. 

ATHELSTAN, (solus.) 

Where stays Lord Essex? — I have need of him 
To cheer my drooping spirits ; dismal thoughts 
Of man's deep treachery assail my soul, 
And palsy it with fear ; — 

Off, off, vile incubus. 

And haunt the guilty ! wherefore should I fear, 
Who long to live in peace with all mankind ? 

(Enter Essex and Anlaf.) 
Welcome, my lord ; in troth we were well tired 
Of our own solemn thoughts. 

ESSEX. 

My liege, I bring you one will cheer your heart 
With music's magic notes, and please your ear 
With tales of troubadours. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Right welcome is the minstrel to our camp, 
If treason lurk not 'neath his minstrel's garb ! 



64 ATHELSTAN. [act IV, 

ESSEX. 

An' I bat saw the slightest treachery 

In word or deed, his body soon should swing 

From yon majestic oak, whose giant limbs 

Would scarcely bend beneath a traitor's form, 

However bold the front he did assume 

To hide his foul intent. 

ANLAF. 

I sought not, lord, to enter this fair tent — 
Then why insult me with thy doubts and threats ? 

ATHELSTAN. 

To caution thee, and save thee from the fate 
That surely would await thee, did we doubt 
Thy truth or loyalty. 

ANLAF. 

You know me not, most gracious sire, or else 
You would not thus mistrust me. 

[A flourish of trumpets is heard. 

ATHELSTAN. 

What means that, Essex i 

(Enter Kent.) 

Ha, my noble Kent ! 
We did not look to see thee, till the morn. 

KENT. 

My liege, I tarried not ; when danger presses, 

It boots not to waste time. Whom have we here ? 

ESSEX. 

One whom we now may well dispense with — 
Sir minstrel, follow me ! 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 65 

ATHELSTAN. 

Hold, gentle minstrel ! though thy harp's unstrung, 
We owe thee guerdon ; ours, not thine, the blame, 
We listened not unto thee. 

ANLAF. 

Pardon me, gracious sire, I may not take 
The wage I have not won. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Then take this as our gift, not as thy wage. 

ANLAF, (aside.) 
I dare not now refuse his gold ; 
May curses light upon the hand that gives it! 

[Takes the gold, and exit with Essex. 

ATHELSTAN. 

How parted the rude Danes with their fair queen ? 

KENT. 

My liege, 'tis well I tarried not, or else 
Her grace had suffer' d more ; even as it is 
Her wrongs demand redress. 

ATHELSTAN. 

How, Kent ? The rebels dared not add insult 
To other grievous wrongs. 

KENT. 

My liege, I hear the rebel chief himself 
Hath ever treated the fair queen with scorn 
And most unmanly cruelty ; but this 
Her grace could well endure, and murmur not, 
For love she courted not from him ; not so 

F 



66 ATHELSTAN. [act IV. 

Was youthful Godfrid ; in his breast there burn'd 
A foul and most unnatural flame. He loved 
The fair and gentle partner of his sire 
With most unhallow'd lust, and ever gazed 
On her transcendent charms with flaming eyes 
Of wild and fierce desire : ere I arrived, 
He dared to breathe into her wondering ears 
Soft words of lustful love, and to enforce 
The horror-stricken queen, despite her wrath 
And most indignant scorn, to hear the vows 
Of foul, unnatural, and incestuous love, 
In quick succession 'scape his treach'rous lips. 
Her grace, being almost frenzied by her fears, 
Could scarcely move or breathe, when Anlaf came, 
And in derision banter'd the fair queen 
Upon vile Godfrid's love, denounced herself 
As full of treach'rous wiles. 

ATHELSTAN. 

How heard you this, good Kent ? 

KENT. 

E'en from the queen's own lips, and all borne out 
By her attendant, too. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Oh, thou all-seeing God, who know'st each thought 
By which thy erring creatures are misled — 
Oh, give me but to chastise these foul slaves 
As merits their misdeeds, then will I yield 
My soul without a murmur, e'en though life 
Were far more precious to my weary frame 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAK 67 

Than ever yet it hath indeed appeared ! 
Oh, Kent, my soul is sicken'd ; for 'twas I 
Who plunged Editha into such a den 
Of fearful villany. 

KENT. 

Think not of it, your grace ; let vengeance fall 
Upon their guilty heads. Here do I swear, — 
So help me Heaven, in my utmost need, — 
Not one of that accursed race shall rest, 
While I have strength to wield a sword, or voice 
To lead my followers on ! The slaves shall die, 
Or I will cease to live ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Oh, thou brave warrior, with thee will I join 
With all the energy such injuries raise 
In my enraged breast. 

(Enter Essex.) 
So quick return'd — I trust you have not left 
The minstrel unattended in our camp ? 

ESSEX. 

Not so, your grace ; I've placed upon his trail 
A gallant soldier, who will mark him well, 
And guard his king from treachery, while life 
Doth animate his form. 

KENT. 

I know not why, but in my breast there lurks 
A doubt of that same minstrel. I have seen 
Those piercing eyes before, yet cannot call 
His features to my memory. I fear 
There's treason in his eye. 

f 2 



68 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

ATHELSTAN. 

No more of him, my lord ; he's in safe hands, 
Or Essex would not leave him. 

ESSEX. 

Believe me, gallant Kent, the knave is watch'd, 
And yet he knows it not. Should treach'ry lurk 
Within his breast, his life will answer it. 
(Enter Cedric.) 

Ha, Cedric, has the minstrel left our camp, 
That thus we see you here ? 

CEDRIC. 

He has, my lord ; and ere he went, he flung 
This well-filPd purse with contumely away, 
And cursed the hand that gave it. 

ATHELSTAN. 

And thou, brave soldier, what didst thou, when thus 
The minstrel proved a spy ? 

CEDRIC. 

E'en pick'd it up, and dogg'd him, step by step, 
Until I saw him fairly leave the camp. 

KENT. 

Then art thou a base poltroon, or thy sword 
Had pierced the traitor's heart. 

CEDRIC 

My lord, I am soldier. 

ATHELSTAN. 

A soldier ! Dar'st thou boast the glorious name, 
Yet let a spy escape ? Thou — thou art unfit 
To bear the warlike name ! 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 69 

CEDRIC. 

My liege, I am a soldier, and can do 
A soldier's duty. In the battle-field 
My arm is ever ready to defend 
My country and my king. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Vain boaster ! why didst let the spy escape, 
But that thy coward soul fear'd to detain him ? 

CEDRIC. 

My liege, you wrong me. I came here to speak 
Words of deep import, and I trust your grace 
Will hear, ere you condemn me. 

ESSEX. 

I pray your grace to hear him ; he is brave 
And fearless as the lion when he springs 
Upon his deadly foe. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Speak on, then, soldier ; and we trust thy words 
Will clear the doubts that in our breast hath sprung 
To thy .dishonour. 

CEDRIC. 

My liege, I trust to prove, in a few words, 
My truth and loyalty. Lord Essex gave 
Into my watchful care one whom I knew ; 
And knowing, marvelPd much to see him here, 
Where dangers did surround him. He came forth 
With noble Essex from your grace's tent, 
And as I follow'd in his track, he flung 



70 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

This purse away, and curses fearful fell 
From out his trait'rous lips. 

ATHELSTAN. 

And you heard this, yet let the knave escape ? 

ESSEX. 

Cedric, thou art a traitor to thy king, 
And false to me, thy lord ! 

CEDRIC. 

Not so, my lord ; born in Northumberland, 

I took the oath of fealty to the Dane, 

Who ruled with iron hand my fatherland. 

I served stern Sithric many a weary year, 

And for reward met contumely ; his arm 

At length was raised to strike me, when my sword 

Received the well-aimed blow ; he fell, I fled ; 

Since then Fve served your lordship. If my arm 

Was ever wanting in a valiant cause, 

I pray you now condemn me. 

ESSEX. 

It were, indeed, ingratitude in me 
To speak against thy valour; twice thine arm 
Hath saved my life ; twice hath thy goodly sword 
Been steeped in foemen's blood ; twice hath mine 

eye 
Beheld thee foremost in the battle fray, 
Dealing death around thee ; thou art brave, 
And hitherto thou hast been trusty, — yet — 
Thou hast been wanting now. 



SCENE III J ATHELSTAN, 71 

CEDRIC. 

An' I had not been bound by honour's ties, 
The traitor had not thus escaped ; but he 
Who once swore fealty to the sire, could not, 
Without dishonour to his name, betray 
The son unto his foes. 

ATHELSTAN, 

Ha ! what means the knave ? Speak, soldier : say 
Who was the minstrel spy ? 

CEDRIC 

Lord Anlaf, son of Sithric, and now chief 
Of proud Northumbria. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Soldier, thou art a traitor, and thy life 
Shall answer for this treason. 

CEDRIC 

I am no traitor ! I 
Am true and faithful. Could your grace e'er trust 
A man who thus betray'd unto his foes 
The son of one to whom he'd bent the knee 
And sworn a subject's fealty ? Could I thus 
Descend to play the trait'rous knave, such deeds 
Would stamp my name with infamy. Your grace 
Condemns me now, and then you could not trust 
me. 

ATHELSTAN. 

My lords, he reasons well ; our tent's unsafe, 
E'en though well guarded by our gallant troops, 
Some loophole might remain, wherein could creep 
This traitor to our tent. 



72 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

ESSEX. 

It were most unwise 

To risk your precious life ; my humble tent 

Is well surrounded. By your grace's leave, 

I will surrender it, and take a share 

Of noble Kent's to-night. 

You may retire. [To Cedric] 

[Exit Cudric. 

A flourish of trumpets. 
Enter Altheof. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Welcome, lord bishop, to our camp ; thy voice 
Will rouse our soldiers' fervent zeal ; thy arm 
Deal death unto our foes. 

ALTHEOF. 

Oh, sire, it grieves my soul that all our hopes 

Of sweet and lasting peace should fade away, 

And sink into nonenity. The slaves 

Of wild, ungovern'd passions, who have cast 

The fiery brand of discord o'er this isle, 

So lately teeming with its fragrant sweets, 

Which rose like incense in the morning air, 

Must now be crush'd at once, their pride cast down, 

No more to rise again o'er this fair land, 

To cast their baleful influence — destroy 

The handiworks of God. 

ATHELSTAN. 

E'en so, lord bishop ; we will meet the knaves 
Soon as the sun doth gild the distant hills, 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 73 

And hunt them till the shades of evening hide 
Them 'neath her sombre veil. 

ALTHEOF. 

Soon as the early blush of morn appears, 
Let all our warriors meet, let prayers ascend. 
Myself will offer up high mass, and crave 
The blessings of Almighty on our arms ! 

KENT. 

Where rest you, holy father, while the hours 
Of night do pass away ? 

ALTHEOF. 

Beneath heaven's canopy ; the cool night air 
Will best recruit my strength. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Not so, good father. We ourselves do purpose 
To seek Lord Essex's tent ; — will you not with us ? 

ALTHEOF. 

No ; by your grace's leave, I fain would spend 
Some of the silent hours of night alone, 
To offer up my prayers to the Most High, 
Whose ear is ever open, and whose eye 
Nought evil can escape ! If this fair tent 
Is vacant, I will tenant it till morn. 

ATHELSTAN. 

E'en as you will. Let careful watch be kept 
Around its every entrance ! We have had 
Lord Anlaf in a minstrel's garb within, 
And doubt not but the traitor still may lurk 
Near unto our camp. 



74 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

ALTHEOF. 

Fear not for me, your grace • the all-seeing eye 
Looks down upon His creatures ; His dread voice 
Is heard amid the murmuring of the wind, 
Which sweeps o'er all sweet Nature as she rests 
In this most solemn hour ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Unto His guidance, then, we now will leave you, 
And seek some slight repose. 

KENT. 

Let me beseech you, have a care ! Let guards 
Be placed around this tent. 

ALTHEOF. 

I thank you, noble Kent, for so much caution I 
It shall not be in vain. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Heaven have you in its keeping ! 

[Exit Athelstan, Kent, and Essex. 

ALTHEOF. 

It were unwise not to take caution, thus 

Urgently offered . [Exit and re-enter. 

Oh, thou all-potent Power, whose august voice 

Is heard amid the howling of the blast, 

In whose right hand the thunderbolts of heaven 

Are poised, whose eye pervadeth earth and sky — 

Oh, grant, in mercy, Athelstan may live 

To crush rebellion, and restore once more 

Sweet peace to this fair isle ! (Sits down.) 

I know not why, but dismal shadows nit 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 75 

Across my mental vision. Can it be 

That Heaven thus vouchsafes to his worshipper 

A foretaste of the dangers that assail 

His king and country ? Could my blood be shed 

And offered up t'appease the wrath of man, 

And calm those wild, ungovernable Danes, 

Restore sweet peace to Albion's lovely shore, 

How freely would I yield my life to save 

This land from all the horrors that assail 

Her in the coming strife ! 

(Attempts to sleep, then speaks.) 
My blood creeps slowly through my sluggish veins, 
And yet I cannot sleep ; I feel a chill 
Fall on my beating heart, my eyelids droop, 
My limbs seem paralysed ; what may this mean, 
That thus I am enfeebled — while my pulse 
Beats wildly as it would escape the bounds 
That Nature hath allotted it ?— I'll wrap 
Yon cloak around me, and its ample folds 
May tempt the drowsy god ; thus may I gain 
An hour or two's sweet sleep. 

(Rises and takes the king's cloak, which he puts 
on, and again sits down, and sleeps.) 

Enter Anlaf. 

ANLAF. 

So, Anlaf, so, 
The tent is gained ; what more remains to do 
Must now be done, and yet I dread to strike 
The blow that places on my ample brow 



76 ATHELSTAN. [ACT IV. 

A kingly diadem : curse on this coward fear ! 

Why should I gaze upon that fragile form 

Which lies before me thus in tranquil sleep, 

And hesitate to strike the fatal blow 

That makes that sleep eternal ? He will pass 

From life to death without a single pang 

That Nature doth inflict ! This keen-edged blade 

Will at one blow dissever all the ties 

That bind him to the earth. 

(Approaches behind him.) 
How calm he sleeps ! 
Not e'en a muscle of his form doth rise 
To bid me pause, and yet I would he moved, 
Wer 't but to prove he lives, and that I struck 
A living man, and not a lifeless clod. 

(Altheof throws out his legs.) 
Ay, now in sooth the deed must be perform'd, 
Or else he will arouse, and his shrill voice 
Will summon to his aid the guards who wait 
Around the entrance of this gaudy tent. 

(Creeps slowly up behind Altheof, and stabs him.) 
This to thy heart, false king ! 

altheof, (attempting to rise.) 

So soon — 
And is my dream then real? Oh, help, there — help ! 

ANLAF. 

Tis mercy now to end him, and my life 

Depends upon his death ! (Stabs him again.) 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 77 

ALTHEOF. 

Help — oh, help ! Tis past ; my eyes grow dim. 
Death ! thou art fearful in thy bleeding form. 
Now all is dark and hueless ; gentle Heaven, 
Receive my soul ! and oh, forgive this wretch — 
He knows not what he does ! O h ! (Dies.) 

Anlaf, (uncovering Altheof.) 

Hell, and ten thousand furies ! Have I steep'd 

My hands in human blood — defaced the form 

Of God's own image ! and yet not appeased 

The fiery wrath that urged me on to slay 

The king, my bitter foe ? Whom have we here ? 

That face ! those vestments, too ! the sacred cross, 

All, all denote the truth ! What have I done ? 

Destroyed the servant of the church ? Defiled 

My hands with priestly blood ! Oh, woe ! oh, woe ! 

My very soul doth sicken at the deed 

My guilty hand hath done ! [Exit. 

Enter Guards. 

FIRST GUARD. 

I tell thee, Aldred, that I heard men speak 

In tones of horror. Ho ! behold our lord 

Is basely murdered ! Raise the alarm, quick — quick! 

The murd'rer is yet here — the blood yet flows ! 

Oh, horror, horror, horror ! [Exit Guards. 

Just Heaven ! 
Who can have done this deed ? (Weeps.) 



78 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

Enter Athelstan, Kent, Essex, and Guards. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Merciful Heaven ! 

KENT. 

Let careful search be made ; each avenue 
That leads toward this tent be guarded well : 
And, on your lives, let not the wretch escape 
Who thus hath murdered God's anointed son ! 

ESSEX. 

Alas, alas ! my liege, sure Heaven itself 

Did prompt your grace to quit this tent last night ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Heaven's will be done ! the blow was doubtless meant 
To rive our royal breast ; would that our words 
Had made more impress on our murdered friend ! 
But grief avails not now ; let ev'ry breast 
Be steeled 'gainst pity in the coming strife ! 
They who send forth assassins thus to steal 
Upon us in our tent, and basely slay 
Their monarch in his sleep, deserves the fate 
Heaven and our arms award them ! 



ACT V. 

SCENE I.— Anlafs Camp. Exterior ofAnlafs Tent. 

GODFRID, MaNFRID, WuLFSTAN, GlENDIG, OsCAR. 
GODFRID. 

Behold, my lords, along the eastern sky 
The first soft blush of morn appears, and yet 
Our royal brother comes not ! 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAK. 79 

MANFRID. 

Patience, my lords ! beshrew me 'tis unwise 

To blame our gallant chief; some unknown cause 

Detains him 'gainst his will. 

OSCAR. 

Once more, I tell thee, Danes, that I like not 
This absence of your chief : it is not meet 
That we, whose blood runs clear in our pure veins 
As are the crystal streams which gurgling rise 
Amid our verdant valleys — as the snow 
Which lies in fleecy flakes on our bleak hills, 
Whose mountain ridges rise in tow'ring forms 
Toward the azure sky — should thus attend 
In idle dalliance on your loitering chief, 
Who, in defiance of our counsel, plays 
The base, ignoble character of spy, 
And by his most untimely absence risks 
All our hard-earned honour. 

WULFSTAN. 

Princes, I do beseech you, ponder well 
Ere thus you cast discredit on our chief, 
Whose mighty soul would shrink in dumb amaze 
To hear his honour doubted ! 

GLENDIG. 

Wherefore tarries he ? 

WULFSTAN. 

Alas, my lord ! I know not. Heaven forbid 
Aught evil has befall'n him ! 



80 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

GLENDIG. 

Your fears but add more weight to our wise counsel 
Which your proud chief did spurn. 

GODFRID. 

Enough of this ! — Behold ! the god of day 
Already sheds his golden beams around 
Earth's circling orbit. Let our troops prepare 
To meet King Athelstan : ourself will lead 
Them in our brother's absence. 

OSCAR. 

Now, by the ashes of my sire, I swear, 

No sword of mine shall draw for Anlaf s cause 

Till Anlaf doth appear ! 

GLENDIG. 

Nor shall a man, o'er whom my voice holds sway, 
Move in the prince's absence. 

GODFRID. 

Brave princes, pause! — you would not stain the name 
Bequeathed by thy brave ancestors — thy word 
Is pledged to aid our cause ! 

OSCAR. 

Beware, young sir, how you provoke our wrath ! 

GODFRID. 

Ha, sayst thou ! {Draws ; Oscar draws.) 

WULFSTAN. 

Forbear, my lords ; I charge ye both, forbear ! 

MANFRID. 

Lord Godfrid, thou art in the wrong : thy words 
Are quicker than thy thoughts. 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 81 

GODFRID. 

Oscar, thine hand— pardon my free speech, 
My blood boils o'er with ire, 

Enter Anlaf. 

ANLAF. 

I crave your pardon, friends ; are ye prepared 
To give these foe men battle ? 

OSCAR. 

Why should you doubt us ? We have pledged our 

troth, 
Which never yet was falsified ; our troops 
Are ready arm'd, and wait but for the word 
To charge, ere they have at them. 

ANLAF. 

Why, that is well ! 

GLENDIG. 

Cold is thy greeting, Anlaf, and thine eye 
Rolls with uneasy motion o'er the camp, 
As though some trait'rous caitiff had been caught 
Within its canvass'd walls. 

ANLAF. 

How ! — wouldst thou taunt me ? 

(Looks on his bloody hands.) 
(Aside) — 'Tis true, my hands are dyed with blood, 

and yet 
It is not stamp'd upon my burning brow. 

oscar, (aside to glendig.) 
By Heaven, he is a craven ! in his eye 
The demon Fear doth lurk. 



82 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

GLENDIG. 

High in the heavens, already Sol doth ride, 
Illuming with his beams the clear blue sky, 
Whose radiant lustre casts into the shade 
The solemn darkness of the early morn ; 
And yet our troops rest on their arms ; the foe 
Will deem us cowards all ! 

MANFRTD, (aside to ANLAF.) 

My lord, thou'rt wounded, and thy hands are dyed 
With crimson stains of blood. 

anlaf, (aside to Manfrid.) 
Tis false ! — I charge you, name it not again. 
I did not do the deed. 

oscar, (aside to glendig.) 
Now, by the good Saint David, do I deem 
The prince hath played a deep and desperate game ! 
His hands are dyed with blood ; his haggard cheek 
Proclaims a mind but ill at ease. Beshrew me, 
But much I fear me. he hath steeped his soul 
In the blood of Britain's king ! 

glendig, (aside to OSCAR.) 
What ! think you Anlaf doth possess the heart 
Or hand of an assassin ? 

oscar, (aside.) 
Even so, good Glendig. 

glendig, (aside.) 
Then would I not degrade myself to join 
The base and treacherous knave ! 



SCENE I.] ATHELSTAN. 83 

OSCAR, (to GLENDIG.) 

Hush ! Anlaf now doth speak. 

ANLAF. 

Be this the order of our field : myself 
Will lead the centre ; in the van, brave Oscar, 
You and good Wulfstan will your warriors lead ; 
Glendig and Godfrid will bring up the rear ; 
While trusty Manfrid the reserve commands, 
To aid where'er 'tis needed. 

GODFRID. 

Why should I loiter in the rear, good brother ? 
The van should be my post. 

ANLAF. 

Nay, gentle Godfrid, let us not now w T aste 
Our time in needless words ! 

GLENDIG. 

Already have we wasted precious time, 

While danger doth surround us ; deeds, not words, 

Have terrors for our foes. 

ANLAF. 

Away, then, gallant friends, each to the post 
Of honour that's assigned him ! 

[Exit, all but Anlaf. 
I would I had not steeped my soul in blood, 
Or slain that holy man ! 



g 2 



84 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 



SCENE II.— Another part of the Field. 

Enter Essex and Godfrid. (Soldiers, fighting, 
cross the stage.) 

ESSEX. 

Stand, villain Dane ! I charge thee, stand ! or die 
The death of a vile traitor. 

GODFRID. 

Fool ! art thou then already tired of life, 
That thus thou rashly plung'st into the stream 
Of Lethe's stagnant water? Back, sir — back, 
I seek a nobler quarry ! 

ESSEX. 

Perchance some trembling beauty ! Ha, thou start'st ! 
Come, sir — thy life or mine ! 

GODFRID. 

I know thee, Essex, and would spare thy life, 
In pity to thy youth ! 

ESSEX. . 

Doth guilt then sit so deeply on thy soul, 

That thus thou fear'st to die ? Come — sir, come ! 

GODFRID. 

E'en yet I fain would spare thee — get thee gone ! 

ESSEX. 

Traitor ! thou or I 



Must sleep this night in Hades ! 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN. 85 

GODFRID. 

Nay, then, die ! 

(They fight, and Godfrid falls.) 

Oh, Essex ! thou hast conquered, and I feel 
My life is ebbing fast ; bear my last words 
To beauteous Editha ! 

ESSEX. 

Pollute not with thy pois'nous breath, the name 
Of so much excellence ! 

godfrid. 

Oh, Essex ! Death is making rapid strides 

O'er all my faculties ; and yet to live, 

And ever be an alien from the breast 

Of her on whom my heart hath poured a flood 

Of gushing tenderness — behold, her eyes 

Cast forth disdainful lightnings that would blast 

The fervid passion of my ardent soul — 

Were far more terrible than 'tis to die, 

And sink into nonentity ! I feel 

A cold and slimy substance slowly creep 

O'er all my palsied limbs. Oh, this is Death 

In all his ghastly hideousness ! I die ! 

And dying, bless thee, Editha! O h ! [Dies. 

ESSEX. 

Peace to thy manes ! Sweet Pity, cast thy veil 
O'er his iniquities ! 



86 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

Enter Athelstan and An laf, fighting. 

ANLAF. 

Yield thee, Athelstan ! and save thy life 
While yet 'tis mine to grant ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Never, false traitor, will I yield to thee, — 
Vile murderer that thou art ! 

ANLAF. 

No longer will I trifle with thee — die ! 
Die, thou puny thing ! 

(Anlaf beats down the King, when Essex rushes 
forward and encounters Anlaf. They fight.) 

.ESSEX. 

Hold, murderer, hold ! — nor dare to slay thy king ! 

anlaf, (falling.) 
Curses on thee ! (Dies.) 

(Essex totters up to the King.) 

ESSEX. 

My liege, thou'rt saved — I die ! and dying, crave 
You'll bear this jewel to Northumbrian queen, 
And say, 'twas Essex sent it — his last words 
And thoughts were all with her ! May blessings 

light 
Upon her beauteous head ! [Faints and falls. 



SCENE II.] ATHELSTAN". 87 

Enter Kent and Oscar, Cedric and Wulfstan, 
fighting, Glendig and Soldiers. 

ATHELSTAN. 

Forbear ! forbear ! just Heaven, forgive these men 
The havoc of this day ! 

cedric, {seeing essex.) 
Oh, my dear lord and master ! truest soul 
Of honour, art thou dead, and I yet live ! 
Too late to save thee have I come — yet not 
Too late to avenge thee ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Alas, brave soldier ! vengeance from on high 
Hath fall'n upon his slayers. 

KENT. 

Oh, woful sight ! — the best and truest knight 
Of Christendom lies there ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Let a rude couch be made, to bear him hence 
From this ensanguined field ! 

KENT. 

What shall be done with these, our prisoners ? 

ATHELSTAN. 

Let them be freed — the dragon's head hath fallen, 
And with it future danger ! There now lie 
The traitors who concocted this deep plot, 
Which hath o'errun our peaceful isle, and brought 
Destruction on their heads ! 



88 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

cedric, (having carefully examined essex, exclaims 
exultingly.) 

He lives ! — he lives ! — the noble Essex lives; 
Ye Heavenly Powers, I thank thee ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Bind up his wounds, and bear him to our tent — 
The leech awaits us there ; this fearful sight 
Doth harrow up my soul. 

KENT. 

False pride, and vain ambition, thou art lures 
Doth make vain man resemble the foul fiends 
In their incarnate deeds ! 



SCENE III. — Saloon in Athelstan's Castle. 

EDITHA, (sol'US.) 

What dire forebodings thus oppress my soul, 

Turning the day to night! the glorious sun, 

In all its godlike beauty, seems to cast 

A bloody hue o'er all sweet Nature's works ! 

The earth seems parched with heat, and, as it opes, 

Discloses pools of blood to my mind's eye, 

Where silvery streams should flow. 

(Enter Elgiva.) 

What news, my Elgiva ? what makes thy cheek 
So pale, thy eye so tearful ? speak— oh, speak ! 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 89 

What news of dire import hath reached thine ear, 
That thus thou art oppress'd ? 

ELGIVA. 

The king is safe, the Danish princes slain, 
And peace once more restored ! 

EDITHA. 

Heaven be praised, for mercies thus vouchsafed ! 

ELGIVA. 

Amen ! 

EDITHA. 

And noble Kent, and Essex, and the rest 
Of Britain's gallant sons ? 

ELGIVA. 

Alas! 

EDITHA. 

What awful tale doth hang upon thy tongue, 
That thou fear'st to give it utt'rance ? 

ELGIVA. 

Patience, dear madam, I will tell you all, 
If you will calmly hear me. 

EDITHA. 

Patience ! just Heaven ! torture me not thus ; 
But tell me all the evil thou hast heard, 
E'en though it crush me with its fearful weight — 
All — all ; and I — I will endure it. 

ELGIVA. 

The brave Lord Essex 



90 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

EDITHA. 

What wouldst thou say of Essex ? — speak, oh, 

speak ! 
Oh, say not he is dead ! 

ELGIVA. 

He lives, dear madam, but sore wounded — and 
His life is much despaired of. 

EDITHA. 

Merciful Heaven ! 

ELGIVA. 

I pray your grace be calm ; there is without 

One whom his lord doth trust; who fain would 

speak 
From Essex to your grace. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Elgiva ! thou sayst, be calm ! Go tell 

The winds to stay their fury ; bid the stars 

To hide their glowing charms in night's dark veil — 

Yon sun to cease to shine — wolves cease to howl — 

Or man to cease to slay his fellow man ; 

But bid me not be calm ! Oh, thou dear lord ! 

My life, my soul, my joy ! and art thou falFn 

Beneath the treachery of these crafty Danes ? 

And shall I see thy godlike form no more, 

Gaze on thy lustrous eyes, or hear thy voice 

Fall on my overwrought ear ? 

ELGIVA. 

I do beseech thee, dearest madam — see, 
The soldier from Lord Essex ; he may have 
News of more joyful import. 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAST. 91 

EDITHA. 

Yes, I will see him, and, perchance may hear 

[Exit Elgiva. 
The last fond words of Essex. Oh, sweet Heaven ! 
This blow is all too much ; and yet I bow 
In dutiful submission to thy will. 

{Enter Elgiva and Cedric) 

Oh, hast thou come from Essex ! — doth he live ? 
Deceive me not, I charge thee ! 

CEDRIC 

Lady, my tongue is not attuned to utter 
Aught which is untrue. 

EDITHA. 

Pardon me, gallant soldier, if my words 
Reflected on thine honour ! Say, thy lord !— 
How fares he ? 

CEDRIC 

The noble Essex lives ! 

EDITHA. 

And is that all ? — have you no word — no sign, 
Sent from your lord to me ? 

CEDRIC 

Alas, sweet madam ! {Weeps.) 

EDITHA. 

Good soldier, thou dost weep ; and yet mine eyes 
Refuse to join in unison with thine ; 
My heart is bursting, and my o'erwrought brain 
Whirls with incessant motion ; am I mad, 



92 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

Or is it but a dream ? Doth Essex live ? 
Good soldier, tell me all, ere my weak heart 
Doth burst its earthly bonds. 

CEDRIC. 

Oh, lady ! I am sorely sorrow-stricken, 
And can scarcely speak for tears. 

EDITHA. 

Give them free vent ; I would that I could weep, 
And ease my heart's deep anguish. 

ELGIVA. 

Soldier, this weakness ill becomes thee ; thou 
Shouldst bear thyself more bravely. 

CEDRIC 

Lady, I am corrected ; but my love 
Was like a parent's, and I treasured up 
Each word, each look, the noble Essex cast 
Upon his humble servitor ; and felt 
My life was all too short e'er to repay 
Such kindness freely lavish'd. 

EDITHA. 

Speak yet of noble Essex ; doth he live ? 
Or is he past all hope ? 

CEDRIC 

Lady, he lives ! Kind Heaven, grant his wounds 
Are not past leech's art ! His ardent soul 
Bore him into the thickest of the fight ; 
Wherever danger pressed, his glittering sword 
Fell with the speed of lightning's flash ; his eye 
Sought out the various leaders of the foe, 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 93 

Till he encounter'd Godfrid. The young Dane 
Was brave and active ; and his heavy blows 
Fell with a warrior's ardour on the shield 
Of warlike Essex, who gave blow for blow ! 
Each fought now for his life ; the rebel Dane 
At length was foiFd — brave Essex plunged his 

sword 
Into the traitor's side, who, faltering fell, 
And yielded up his spirit to his God. 

EDITHA. 

And Essex ! was he wounded unto death ? 

CEDRIC. 

His wounds e'en then were slight ; but as he gazed, 
And paused in sorrow o'er young Godfrid's corse, 
King Athelstan and Anlaf did appear 
Before his wondering eyes. 

EDITHA. 

Speak on, I charge you, soldier ! — on your words 
My life or death now hangs. 

CEDRIC. 

They came like famished tigers : on his foe, 
Each look'd with lustrous eyes ; the blood in streams 
Oozed from their num'rous wounds. Anon, the king 
Fell 'neath his powerful foe, who with a blow 
Prepared now to despatch him. Essex rush'd 
Beneath the upraised blade, received the stroke, 
And saved his royal sire. The trait'rous Dane 
Fell with redoubled fury on him. Life 



94 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

Was now the stake each fought for — blow for blow 
Was given and received. 

ELGIVA. 

Heroic Essex ! Then he saved the king, 
And lost his precious life ? 

CEDRIC. 

Tis not in nature to hold out full long, 
When blood is teeming forth from countless wounds : 
Fierce Anlaf fell, and, with his latest breath, 
He cursed his conqueror. 

EDITHA. 

And your gallant lord ? 

CEDRIC. 

With loss of blood, fell fainting at the feet 
Of royal Athelstan. His latest words — 
His only thoughts, dear lady, were of thee. 

ELGIVA. 

How mean you, sir ? — did you not say he lives ? 

CEDRIC 

He lives ; but life doth hang upon a thread ; 
He hath not spoken since. 

(A flourish of trumpets.) 

Enter Athelstan, Kent, Turketal, and Soldiers, 
bearing in Essex. 

TURKETAL. 

All hail, victorious sire ! Thus may your foes 
Fall 'neath the vengeance of your warlike arms. 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 95 

ATHELSTAN. 

Oh, Turketal, it grieves our heart to see 
The devastating horrors that hath fall'n 
Upon this sinful people ! Gracious Heav'n ! 
Who read'st the hearts of men, in pity spare 
This land from a renewal of the scenes 
That now disfigure it. That bleeding form 
Is all that's left of Essex, whose brave arm 
Struck down the sword of Anlaf, when 'twas raised 
To rob thy king of life. 

(Editha advances.) 
Oh, dearest sister ! once again we greet thee, 
Though saddened are our hearts. Behold the man 
Who saved thy brother's life ! 

(Editha advances to Essex, and falls on her knees 
beside him.) 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Essex — gentle, noblest, best of men ! 
Oh, let me gaze into thy dying eyes, 
And read thy latent thoughts ! 

essex, {half rising .) 
Methought I heard a voice, whose mellow tones 
Fell on my ravished ears. 

EDITHA. 

Oh, Essex, must thou die, and I still live 

To see thee fade before me ? Horror — horror ! 

ESSEX. 

Hush ! thou dear one — hush ! Breathe not a sigh ; 



96 ATHELSTAN. [ACT V. 

But let me die, gazing upon thine eyes, 
Which speak of love and constancy. Fve lived 
Full long in sorrow, let me die in joy. 

EDITHA. 

And must thou die ? Is there no hope — no aid, 
To snatch thee from the jaws of death ? My God ! 
And must this dear one die ? 

ESSEX. 

Oh, speak again — blest angel, speak again 
Those words of blissful joy ! 

kent, (aside to athelstan.) 
Oh, this is dreadful ! Good my liege, I knew not 
They loved each other thus. 

ATHELSTAN, (to KENT.) 

This blow hath struck me like a thunderbolt, 
Sent from the hand of Jove ! 

EDITHA. 

They shall not part us, Essex. We will soar 
Together into realms of bliss ; our faith 
Shall not by death be severed. 

ESSEX. 

Come nearer, dear one — nearer ! Thou hast fled : 

I see thee not — my eyes grow dim. Sweet Heaven, 

Receive my soul ! and, oh, console this dear one ! 

Sweet love, thine hand ! I feel an icy chill 

Creep o'er my heart, and all is— bless thee — oh ! 

[Dies. 
editha, (flinging herself upon the body.) 

Oh, Essex, stay — thou shalt not leave me thus ! 



SCENE III.] ATHELSTAN. 97 

Stern Death, thou shalt not part us ! We will go 
Together into realms of bliss ! Thou'rt gone ! 
Then I must follow, too ! [Dies. 

(Athelstan and Kent approach.) 

ATHELSTAN. 

Sweet sister, I beseech thee, leave this form 
Of poor insensate clay. (Attempts to raise her.) 
I pray you, Kent, lend me your aid ; my wounds 
Hath left me weak — I cannot raise this mourner. 

(Kent assists the King to raise her.) 
Come, dearest sister, cheer thee : bid thy heart 
Arouse it from this deep affliction ; cast 
Thy thoughts on the Most High. 

KENT. 

Just Heaven ! my liege, I fear her grace is dead ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

Pray Heaven, avert that evil ! Can it be 
That life hath fled this form ? 

TURKETAL. 

Already hath her limbs assumed the form 
And chilly hue of death, her glassy eyes 
Are fix'd and sightless, and her cheek is cold. 
All, all, denote the presence of grim Death 
In this most lovely form ! 

KENT. 

Oh, let this tale of woe 
Be carried far and near ! Let poets tell, 
In ages yet to come, this matchless pair 

H 



98 ATHELSTAN. 

United were in death, though Heaven's decree 
Divided them on earth ! 

ATHELSTAN. 

And ye, vain rulers of this lower sphere, 
Who fain would sacrifice ten thousand lives 
Upon the altars of your sinful pride, 
Behold these victims of the vengeful Mars, 
Whose chariot wheels do crush the hearts of men, 
And rend asunder all the links of life, 
That an all-bounteous God hath form'd to bind 
Man to his fellow man — behold ! thy works 
Are weakly portray'd here. 

We will not part 
Those who are join'd in death ; let them be placed 
Together in one tomb, and may their death appease 
The Omnipotent wrath ! 



A FEW WOEDS ON POETS, 



8fo««tt & Ptottmt. 



IN TWO CANTOS. 



H 2 



* # # The following Lines, when written, were in- 
tended as the first portion of a Series, in which the 
Writer contemplated taking a rapid survey of the 
different compositions of by-gone Poets, devoting 
to each work one short canto, and which, if it met 
with the approbation of the public, would have em- 
braced most of the names, ancient and modern, 
distinguished in poetic literature. 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS, 



CANTO THE FIRST. 

The Subject — Tasso, and his Jerusalem 
Delivered. 

Spirits of ancient Sages, lend your fire, 
To one who fain would wake the tuneful lyre, 
And mount Parnassus with light airy wings, 
And strike the mournful, or the mirthful strings. 
First let me call from out the womb of time, 
Immortal Tasso ! son of southern clime ; 
Whose fiery soul did, like his native sky, 
Shed a bright halo o'er fair Italy. 
Oft have I pondered o'er his magic page, 
Where stands depicted man's impotent rage ; 
Who, in Jehovah's holy name o'erspread 
Thy fields, Jerusalem, with the mighty dead ; 
Who made thy rivers teem with human blood, 
Thy limpid streams, become a crimson flood ; 
Who, in Christ's name, did with his image war, 
And, with the cross, take up the scimetar ; 



102 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Who preached the mercies of a righteous God, 

Yet used the broad-sword as a chastening rod. 

Such were the themes o'er which thy muse did soar, 

Immortal Tasso, in the days of yore, 

When valiant knight, with helmet on his brow, 

For honour sought, e'en as man seeks it now ; 

Not with deep learning's lore, or virtue's laws, 

Did he attempt to prove how just his cause ; 

But glitt'ring sword, or battle-axe, he plied, 

To prove for mercy the Redeemer died ! 

Yet not alone of deeds of war hath sung 

The heav'nly bard, whilst his sweet lyre was strung ; 

But godlike virtues, which became the brave, 

He to bold Richard and mild Godfrey gave. 

Nor did he erst forget the Saracen, 

Whose Arab steed flew o'er the sandy plain, 

Like the simoom, which, ever as it flies, 

Who once behold it, in its grasp soon dies ! 

Such was Saladin ; ever brave and true, 

Who fought for freedom and religion, too ! 

Not his the hand would slay a fallen knight, 

But rather shield him for a nobler fight : 

To tempt him with high honours, or with gold, 

To prove the Christian may be bought and sold ; 

The holy cross e'en from his breast be riven, 

And earth be purchased by the loss of heaven ! 

Yet while he tempted with a bribe his foe, 

He honour'd him who would the bribe forego ; 

And like a true and valiant knight he gave 

The meed of honour to the nobly brave. 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 103 

Why was it then, that such a gallant foe 

Should, like a beast, be hunted to and fro ? 

Was it because the bounteous earth was given 

To those who sought the Christian's road to heaven ? 

Or, was 't because a love of care and toil 

Alone could tempt to leave his native soil 

The valiant Briton, who his fatherland 

Forsook awhile for Asia's burning sand ? 

Was it for this, the mirthful sons of France 

Forsook alike the banquet and the dance — 

Laid by the lance, that in the tournay flew, 

And bade their sad and weeping loves adieu ? 

Or was 't for this, the sons of Bretagne went 

To join with Austrians in one armament ? 

And thus advance in long and measured line, 

To seek for conquest in famed Palestine ; 

Led on by him, who, in the needful hour, 

Betray'd brave Richard when within his power : 

Who basely held in bondage Britain's chief, 

Who scorned the tyrant as a trait'rous thief, 

With that fierce prophet, who led on the van, 

And calPd on man to slay his fellow man. 

Oh, rash impiety, to raise a flame 

Of fiery passions in Jehovah's name ! 

To preach Christ's mercy to an armed band, 

Together leagued to devastate the land ; 

To raise the falchion and the glitt'ring shield, 

To strew with human bones each verdant field ; 

To raise the vulture and the grisly bear, 

The fierce hyena from his midnight lair ; 



104 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

To call the tiger from his dark abode, 
Or spotted leopard to drink up man's blood : 
Which rushes forth from many a gaping wound, 
As the maim'd warrior sinks upon the ground ; 
Then as he wildly turns his eyes to heaven, 
His bleeding form is by the wild beasts riven ; 
His quiv'ring flesh, while life fast ebbs away, 
Torn from his bones by rav'nous beasts of prey — 
Such were the scenes of war in olden time, 
When Christian warriors sought the eastern clime ; 
When, for Jerusalem and the Holy Land, 
Christian and Pagan made a deadly stand — 
When " Allah ! Allah !" the brave Paynim cried, 
As for his faith he nobly fought and died : 
Trusting that he should with Mahomet rise, 
And dwell with Houris in fair paradise ! 
Such was his faith, and such his father's creed, 
And for that faith he bravely dared to bleed. 
While Christian warriors near the sacred tree, 
Where Jesus died upon Mount Calvary ! 
Their voices raised, a meek, yet mighty host, 
To God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ! 
Then for their faith imbued their hands in blood, 
And stain'd all nature with the crimson flood ; 
Not theirs the crime, but his, that hoary friar, 
Who raised the fiend of War with words of fire, 
And roused the tempest in man's stormy breast, 
Where warring passions seek in vain for rest ; 
Who for vain glory and the phantom Fame, 
Slew countless thousands in the Saviour's name ! 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 105 

Not thus our Lord, who with abundant love 

Meekly descended from his throne above ! 

To take upon himself man's sin and guilt, 

Ere for mankind his precious blood was spilt ; 

As, from his side, the crimson stream did flow, 

He sued for pardon for his deadly foe ; 

Nor did one murmur ere escape his lip, 

When in derision they in wormwood dip 

The sponge, already steep'd in bitter gall ; 

But to his Father, humbly did he call. 

" Father, they know not what they do !" he cried ; 

Then yielded up his precious soul, and died. 

Such was the meekness of the blessed Lord ; 

Words were his weapons, not the keen edged 

sword; 
He preach'd to all, that peace, good will, and love, 
Were surest passports to the realms above : 
Not thus stern Peter, who in Christ's dear name, 
Stirr'd up man's passions into a fierce flame ; 
Which, ere it ceased to shed its baleful light, 
Destroy'd vast myriads in inhuman fight : 
Robb'd Christendom of all the great and good, 
Made human flesh become the wild beast's food ; 
Taught the fierce Pagan, that the Christian's God, 
Like filthy Moloch, lived on human blood ; 
Made mothers weep for sons, who, in their prime 
Fell easy victims to that burning clime ; 
Made children orphans, while lone widows wept 
Their much loved husbands, who in death now 
- slept 



306 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Upon fair Asia's hot and burning sand ; 

Made earth a hill, o'er all the Holy Land. 

Such were the deeds that earn'd a deathless name 

To that fierce hermit, who stirr'd up the flame : 

So sings immortal Tasso ; and his strain 

Depicts stern Peter as a son of Cain, 

Whose fiery zeal o'er mankind held control 

Till death divided body from the soul. 

Alas ! how many follow in his wake, 

And in Christ's name sad desolation make ; 

Depicting horrors of a ghastly hue, 

To all who worship God, not as they do : 

And in religion's pure and holy name, 

Light up a blaze of foul sulphureous flame, 

Destroying in its wild, ungovern'd might, 

The choicest gift of God — the lustrous light, 

Which at their birth to all mankind was given, 

To guide their souls the surest way to heaven. 



107 



CANTO II. 

The Subject — Shakspeare, and his Hamlet. 

Hail to thee, Shakspeare ! bard of Avon, hail ! 
Thy name floats ever on the ambient gale ; 
Where'er fair Britain's sons their vigils hold, 
Thy deathless fame will never rest untold. 
For who would dare to boast a Briton's name, 
And not uphold immortal Shakspeare's fame — 
Who, with a giant spring, at once did leap 
Like some dread spirit, from the mighty deep, 
And fling around him, in his tuneful strain, 
Spirits of air, to float upon the main ; 
Or dive beneath the mighty ocean's wave, 
And scan the mermaid's deep and mystic cave ; 
Behold the treasures of her coral home, 
Which tempts the hardy mariner to roam 
Far from his native land, that he may share 
Some of those precious pearls which gem her hair ; 
Or peep into death's deep and dark abyss, 
Where Charon wafts the blessed soul to bliss ; 
Or plunges into Lethe's turbid wave, 
The guilty soul, whom riches could not save ! 
His was the hand, by which the magic wand 
Was gently raised ; when lo ! at his command, 



108 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Came forth a train of noble knights, to yield, 
With courtly trappings and emblazon'd shield, 
Unto the despot's most tyrannic sway 
True knightly homage, his behests obey ; 
Yet not alone did knights his bidding do, 
For kings and queens, in number not a few, 
At his dread nod, came forth again to wear 
The crowns o'erloaded with a world of care. 
Again he waved his magic wand, when lo ! 
Came forth a host of rare and costly show, 
Deck'd out in gems, which rivall'd in their glow 
The wearer's bosom, white as driven snow ; 
All beauteous virgins, fair and young, and coy, 
Fit food for Cupid — that wild urchin boy, 
Who, with a laugh that makes each virgin start, 
Plants his keen arrow in their youthful heart. 
There I beheld Ophelia, young and fair, 
Twine beauteous garlands in her glossy hair ; 
Flow'rs pluck'd from thorns, which in wild hedges 

grew, 
Convolvulus white, and of a purple hue ; 
The bluebell lent its sweet and simple bloom, 
To join the woodbine with its mild perfume ; 
Then came the jasmine sweet, the modest rose, 
The loveliest flow'r that in the garden grows ; 
Ranunculus, too, its brilliant colours vie, 
With rich carnations of the deepest dye ; 
The myrtle, too, its glossy leaves were seen, 
Twine with the ivy in the mystic scene ; 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 109 

The primrose sweet, its odours scent the air, 

The cowslip bright, and daisy, too, was there : 

No shrub that grows, or flower that's known to 

man, 
But in that garland I could plainly scan ; 
And as the love-lorn virgin bound it round 
Her snowy brow, she sank upon the ground ; 
And on her love despondingly she cried, 
When Hamlet stood by fair Ophelia's side ; 
And in her eyes he gazed with speechless awe, 
While in his breast did busy demons war. 
For fair Ophelia was of sense bereft, 
And his the hand that her poor brain had cleft, 
When, in the chamber of the lustful queen, 
He slew Polonius, hid behind the screen ; 
The fatal blow, that slew T her aged sire, 
Deprived Ophelia of bright reason's fire. 
Not his the crime : oh, rather let it fall 
Upon that traitorous pair, who caused it all — 
The treach'rous brother and adult'rous wife, 
That robb'd the king, and husband, too, of life, 
Destroy'd the hopes of that young loving pair, 
And shed their sweetness on the desert air ! 
Next, I beheld Ophelia, on her bier, 
Where Hamlet shed the unavailing tear ; 
Then came Laertes, whose proud and fiery soul 
Taught the brave youth to spurn unjust control ; 
Then I beheld the lewd, unhallowed pair, 
Whose guilty souls shrank 'neath the demon Fear ; 



110 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Around their couch I seem'd to wend my way, 
While fiends were mocking at their worthless prey ; 
Next, to the ramparts I my way then took, 
While heavy footsteps on the silence broke : 
Methought I saw beneath the moon's pale light, 
A ghastly form, with visor raised, alight, 
As 'twere from out a dark and fleecy cloud ; 
When, as I gazed, the cock sent forth aloud 
Its warning notes, which made the phantom shrink, 
And vanish o'er the rampart's dizzy brink. 
Again I gazed upon that fearful form, 
When winds were howling to the midnight storm — 
When the pale moon, beneath the ruddy light 
Of forked lightning, vanished from my sight — 
When the loud winds in anger roar'd aloud, 
And lofty trees before the storm low bowed — 
I saw stalk forth with slow and solemn tread, 
The phantom, or the spirit of the dead ; 
His visor raised, exposed to the view 
His pallid features of a ghastly hue ; 
His eyes, that erst like lightning glanced around, 
Now firmly set, were cast upon the ground — 
When, as I gazed with speechless, trembling dread, 
Upon that form of Denmark's mighty dead, 
A palsied shiver quiver'd through my blood, 
As, with clasp'd hands and fixed eyes, I stood ; 
When, lo ! I heard him say, in hollow tone — • 
" He is not here, my son, my only son !" 
E'en as the sounds fell on my list'ning ear, 
Quick measured footsteps I could plainly hear ; 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 1 1 1 

I turn'd my eyes, and on the ramparts saw 
Young Hamlet stand, in speechless, trembling awe. 
The dew-drops hung upon his princely brow, 
As to the phantom he did lowly bow : 
"Hail!" cried the awe-struck youth — "hail, royal 

sire ! 
Hail, Denmark's royal chief! Ere I expire 
With wonder and amazement, father, say, 
Why from the tomb thy form doth nightly stray ? 
Why is it, that thy soulless shape I see, 
In midnight's solemn hour, arm'd cap-a-pie ? 
Is it because some deadly sin doth dwell 
Within thy bosom, making there a hell ? 
Or is't because some fearful weight of woe 
Hangs o'er my fatherland, and makes it throe 
In fearful agony, and ope its womb, 
Casting the dead up from the mould 'ring tomb, 
Wherein their bones full long have been at rest ? 
Say, in Heaven's name ! art thou not with the 

bless'd ?" 
He paused : the phantom shook its armed head, 
Then glided forward with a noiseless tread : 
" I am thy father's spirit," he replied ; 
" 'Tis said, that through a serpent's sting I died. 
Hamlet, that serpent was a wanton wife ; 
Hers was the sting that took thy father's life ; 
No reptile's venom did my pure blood stain, 
But by my brother I was basely slain. 
Urged on by lust, that foul and loathsome thing, 
To slay thy father, his liege lord and king, 



112 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

The traitor came, and, with dire malice fraught, 
Throughout my orchard he his victim sought : 
He found me, as I oft was wont to lie 
Upon the greensward, 'neath the azure sky ; 
There as 1 lay, ne'er thinking of aught ill, 
The traitor came, with leperous distil, 
More deadly than the fatal shaft that flies 
From the fierce adder, when, with glist'ning eyes, 
He gazes on his victim, ere he springs, 
And with his slimy form around him clings, 
Nor e'er releases from his fearful fold 
The body of his prey, till dead and cold ; 
So came the traitor in the noon-day's heat, 
And, serpent-like, fell cringing at my feet ; 
Then raised himself upon his bended knee, 
Prepared to murder, or to basely flee. 
I slept ; and as I slept, a fearful dream 
(That I was struggling in foul Lethe's stream, 
While mocking fiends in mine ears did howl, 
And welcome to their dark abode my soul ; 
Which from the foul contagion seemed to shrink, 
And cling to life upon death's dizzy brink) 
Came o'er my sleeping senses, and I rose 
In terror, unrefresh'd from my repose ; 
E'en then, methought I felt a fearful pain 
Rush on like wildfire through my dizzy brain ; 
My blood seem'd boiling in my swelling veins, 
My body rack'd with most unusual pains. 
I cast my eyes in agony around, 
And saw the traitor lie upon the ground, 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 1 13 

While with one hand a poniard bright he grasp'd, 

The other held, within its tighten'd clasp, 

An empty phial, whose foulness filPd the air, 

And spread corruption o'er the atmosphere. 

I quickly turn'd, o'erwhelm'd with fear and ire, 

While through my head a flame of liquid fire 

Seem'd madly rushing o'er my frenzied brain, 

And all my limbs were rack'd with deadly pain. 

I strove to reach the murd'rer ; but I fell, 

And what I suffer'd it were vain to tell. 

I lay upon the cold and clammy earth, 

Till pain and anguish drew my spirit forth : 

Then I descended through the yielding earth, 

Where laughing fiends caroused in boist'rous mirth, 

And echo answer' d in my wond'ring ear 

The shouts that filled my soul with awful fear. 

Soon I arrived at the infernal gate, 

Where Satan sat in majesty and state : 

Him I beheld, while round his throne there stood 

A vast assemblage of hell's chosen brood. 

' Hail!' cried the arch fiend, in my awe-struck ear— 

1 Hail, Royal Denmark ! welcome art thou here.' 

Then through the vaulted cavern rang a cheer, 

Which echoed wildly through my palsied ear ; 

While busy fiends around my form did flock, 

And, with grimaces foul, my fears did mock ; 

Then Satan summon'd to his councils one 

Who calmly stood before the arch-fiend's throne ; 

And as he spoke in slow and measured pace, 

Each fiend in silence gazed upon his face ; 



1 14 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Soon I was borne into hell's dark abyss, 

But more, my son, I may not tell of this, 

Or else my tongue could such a tale unfold 

Would turn the current of thy life-blood cold, 

Dry up the marrow in each supple bone, 

And turn thy warm heart into one of stone ; 

Such are the pangs which I am doom'd to bear, 

For unrepented sins, committed here. 

Each stormy night, when winds their vigils keep, 

And man awaketh from his troubled sleep, 

Or when the moon, beneath the lightning's glare, 

Doth vanish in the hazy atmosphere ; 

When glimmering stars withhold their twinkling 

light, 
And earth 4ays hid beneath the cloak of night — 
At such an hour I'm doom'd to leave my cell, 
Where I have suffer'd that I may not tell, 
And walk once more upon my native soil, 
To terrify the sons of honest toil ; 
But not alone for this my ghostly form 
Doth brave the terrors of the midnight storm, 
But that my son might know to whom he owes 
His father's death, and Denmark all her woes " 
He ceased, while Hamlet, with clasp'd hands did cry, 
" Bright Jesus ! hear me, in thy native sky ! 
And thou, poor Ghost, bear witness that I swear, 
I will avenge thee, on thy murderer ! 
Yea, while this brain doth in its caves remain, 
Or my warm blood doth course throughout each 
vein, 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 115 

No other thought shall in my bosom dwell, 
Till I have sent the murd'rer down to hell." 
Thus spoke the Prince, when unto him again 
The Ghost replied, in sad and mournful strain — 
" I find thee apt, and dull wert thou indeed, 
More dull than Lethe's foul and noxious weed, 
Didst thou not stir in this ; yet, Hamlet, hear — 
Strike not thy mother with the vengeful spear, 
But, for thy trait'rous uncle, Hamlet, slay, 
E'en as thou wouldst the reptile in thy way, 
The foul, adult'rous murd'rer, though he stood 
Before the altar of the living God." 
As thus he spoke, the thunder loud did roar, 
And rain in torrents from dark clouds did pour, 
Loud scream'd the owlet from his nightly post, 
As thus communed Prince Hamlet and the Ghost : 
The glowworm o'er the earth now cast its light, 
Which the poor Ghost beheld with much affright ; 
And with his finger pointing to the glow, 
Vanish'd, and left the Prince o'erwhelm'd with woe. 
Awhile he stood, while o'er his princely brow 
The lightning flung a pale and livid hue ; 
Then to high heaven he raised his tearful eyes, 
While from his breast came forth unnumber'd sighs: 
" Great God, who sits upon the eternal throne 
Of heaven's majestic vault, and looketh down, 
And all ye hosts of heaven, who at his nod, 
Do sing the praises of a righteous God, — 
And ye, dark fiends, whom he hath doom'd to dwell 
For evermore in tortures in deep hell, — 

i 2 



116 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Where, 'neath the shadows of perpetual night, 
Grim shadows prowl, or where the sulphurous 

light 
Doth spread its foul and pestilential glare — 
Ye fiends of darkness, hear me, as I swear, 
I never more will rest, by day, or night, 
Till vengeance on the murd'rer's head alight 1" 
He said ; then upward turn'd his tearful eye, 
And thus I left him in sore agony. 

Again, I gazed upon young Hamlet's face, 
And anguish in each lineament did trace; 
Around him sat a proud and glitt'ring train 
Of Denmark's noble sons, who, not in vain, 
Had met that day to see combatants stand, 
And for their precious life fight hand to hand ; 
Around the circle, as I cast mine eye, 
T saw fair Denmark's proudest chivalry ; 
While seated in the galleries above, 
Were beauties fitter for the feast of love, 
Than thus to grace with all their lustrous charms 
The field prepared for deadly feats of arms. 
Oh, who could gaze upon that bright array 
Of virgins, lovely, beautiful, and gay ; 
Behold the smile that beam'd in each bright eye, 
As each fair bosom heaved a gentle sigh — 
Mark each soft cheek, whereon the roses bloom, 
More graceful seem'd, or feel the soft perfume, 
Which from their coral lips, in joyous strain, 
Fell sweet and grateful as the gentle rain 



A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 1 1 7 

Which o'er all nature doth its treasures yield, 
And with sweet moisture renovate each field — 
And not regret that such a gorgeous train 
Were met to see man shed man's blood in vain ? 
'Twas even so, and o'er the scene of strife 
Presided Denmark's proud, lascivious wife, 
While by her side the treach'rous brother stood, 
Whose guilty soul was deeply dyed in blood, 
Which, like the blood of Abel from the plain, 
For vengeance call'd, and call'd not all in vain. 
Beside the lecherous pair young Hamlet stood, 
In solemn silence, and no loving mood ; 
His eye glared round the field, ordain'd to be 
A spot for ever stain'd with infamy; 
Laertes came, the bold, impassion'd youth, 
Who had not then been there, but that the truth, 
Beneath aspersions foul, unnumber'd lies, 
Was basely hid, for which young Hamlet dies. 
The bugle now sends forth its notes of war, 
And echo answers echo from afar ; 
The lists prepared, the foes now take their stand, 
And for their lives they fight now, hand to hand ; 
Not long, alas ! they struggle, ere the tide 
Of blood runs streaming from their wounded side — 
They pant, they stagger, on the earth they roll, 
When Denmark's queen doth quaff the poison'd 

bowl; 
The foil's sharp point, whereon the venom'd sting 
Of subtle poison, by the traitor king, 



118 A FEW WORDS ON POETS. 

Was thickly laid, had penetrated deep 

The youthful Hamlet's flesh, and made it creep. 

He reels, he sinks, but, ere his life hath flown, 

He strikes the foul adult'rous murd'rer down, 

And deep within the guilty monster's breast 

He plants the weapon, and there lets it rest : 

The poison soon its venom doth impart, 

And searches through each victim's bleeding heart ; 

Till Death, the stern despoiler, as they lay, 

Claims mother, son, and uncle, as his prey. 

Such are the themes of which thy muse hath sung, 
Immortal Shakspeare, while thy harp was strung : — 
That harp, whose notes vibrate on ev'ry shore, 
And will do so till time shall be no more. 



MISCELLANEOUS POEMS. 



121 



STANZAS ON LOVE. 

How bright is the sun when at morn it doth rise, 
Shedding bright beams of gladness all over the earth ! 
But brighter to me are my own dear one's eyes, 
When melting in sorrow, or glist'ning with mirth. 

How dark are the clouds which at midnight 

appearest, 
When winds from the westward doth sullenly blow ! 
But darker by far is the brow of my dearest, 
When anger doth lend to her features its glow. 

How bright are the stars which high above glitter, 
How sweet is the dew which at ev'ning doth fall ! 
But brighter and sweeter is the smile that doth 

flitter 
Around the sweet face of a beautiful girl. 

How chaste are the beams of the moon's soften'd glow, 
As proudly she soars in the heavens above ! 
But chaster by far is the bosom of snow, 
Of woman, dear woman, the woman I love ! 

How sweet is the breeze, as it comes from the ocean, 
Whose ruffled green bosom it gently doth kiss ! 
But sweeter by far is the fond heart's devotion, 
When true love doth dwell in that mansion of bliss ! 



122 STANZAS ON LOVE. 

How bright are the hopes of the seaman, as leaving 
His dear native land, he the sail doth unfurl ! 
Still he watches the shore, as his boat's prow is 

cleaving 
The waves, as in eddies they gracefully curl. 

How drear is the prospect, when night's mantle 

falleth 
Above him, around him, in one darken'd form ; 
Yet the mariner's heart no danger appalleth — 
He loveth a calm, yet he fears not a storm. 

For the bold seaman knows that a true heart is 

beating 
Within his rough breast, which all danger defies ; 
His thoughts are now turn'd on his dear one's last 

greeting, 
And the fond recollection brings tears to his eyes. 

He beholds her in fancy, around his form clinging, 
He feels o'er again her last soft, fond embrace ; 
Then loudly her praises he soundeth by singing, 
With love's fervent pathos, her virtues and grace. 

And such are the pleasures which love doth delight 

in, 
No matter the country, the climate, or caste ; 
Though some may love drinking, and others love 

fighting, 
We all love dear woman the longest and last. 



STANZAS ON LOVE. 123 

Then a health to dear woman, the old or the young, 
Be she fair as a blonde, or dark as deep jet — 
I love each sweet face, and each soft prattling tongue, 
But I love best of all my own little pet. 

Oh, how my heart beats as I gaze on her features, 
And play with the ringlets which grace her pale brow, 
She's surely the loveliest of all heaven's creatures 
That e'er condescended to dwell here below. 

Her cheeks are like lilies and roses entwining, 
To deck with their beauties some favourite tree ; 
Her heart is the seat where Love sits reclining, 
And casting his arrows around him with glee. 

I love to gaze on her, while gently I'm pressing 
Her soft taper fingers within my own palm, 
And fancy I feel, in the soft hand's caressing, 
The flame of pure love her soft bosom doth warm. 

How dearly I love, with one arm round her waist, 
While the other hand plays with her long silken hair, 
To pillow my head on her soft snowy breast, 
And banish awhile the world's troubles and care. 

For life is at best but a burthen and sorrow, 
And love, 'tis well known, oft a traitor doth prove : 
Let's enjoy life to-day, then — who knows but to- 
morrow 
May bring forth a storm that's destructive to love. 



124 STANZAS ON LOVE. 

Then here's to the minute, and here's to the hour, 
I first saw my love by the sun's dazzling light ; 
And here's to the godhead of love's magic pow'r, 
Who plants in each bosom a fund of delight ! 

And here's to fair Venus, the bright queen of beauty, 
Whose form in my dear one I fancy I view ! 
But pleasure must now give way to stern duty, 
So fondly, but sadly, I bid her adieu ! 



OH, I LOVE TO RIDE ON THE OCEAN 
WIDE. 

Oh, I love to ride on the ocean wide, 

When the fierce winds loudly roar ; 
I love to roam, on its billowy foam, 

As it lashes the rock-girt shore ; 
For though there's a charm in a gentle calm, 

To gaze on the pale blue sea, 
Yet my bosom doth warm to the raging storm, 

For that, too, hath charms for me. 

'Tis a glorious sight, on a summer's night, 

To gaze on old Ocean's breast ; 
When the moon's pale ray o'er its bosom plays, 

As it silently takes its rest. 



OH, I LOVE TO RIDE. 125 

Its bosom then seems, like our childhood's dreams, 

Innocent, calm, and serene ; 
And the stars which glow, in the waters below, 

Enchantment adds to the scene. 

But when the great deep awakes from its sleep, 

And flingeth its foam on high ; 
When its heaving breast, like a warrior's crest, 

Tow'rs proudly toward the sky ; 
When the waves, as they rise, man's power defy, 

And laugh at his fragile form ; 
When each bounding wave a fresh victim doth 
crave 

For the Demon of the Storm. 

Oh, then, as I see, in wild revelry, 

It dashing the barque on shore ; 
And the crested wave form a human grave, 

And take what it cannot restore — 
I think, while I gaze, with fear and amaze, 

On the foaming waters wild, 
How fearful is wrath when it is once call'd 
forth 

From a breast so calm and mild. 

Then the boundless sea appeareth, to me, 

Like creatures on this our earth ; 
For when its soft breast doth tranquilly rest, 

Tis like a young child at its birth ; 



126 OH, I LOVE TO RIDE. 

And when, in its wrath, it belloweth forth, 

And soareth toward the sky, 
Tis like the fierce brand in a warrior's hand, 

As his foes around him die. 

Then let us all pray for that glorious day, 

When the sword in peace shall rest ; 
And the tale be told, that in days of old 

Mankind one another oppressed : 
When that glorious light, resplendently bright,- 

Which gleams in the heavens above, 
Shall illumine each heart, bid discord depart, 

And earth be a region of love. 



" GOD SAID, LET THERE BE LIGHT." 

" God said, Let there be light I" and o'er the earth 

And ocean's wat'ry waste, o'er hills, o'er vales, 

And o'er the sombre vault of heaven, erst wrapp'd 

In deepest hue of night, the glorious sun 

In gorgeous splendour burst ; and as its beams 

Shone forth at His command, each living thing 

That dwells on earth or in the humid air, 

Or in the rivers deep, or ocean's wide 

And soft expansive bosom, whose white foam, 

In mountain waves doth rise with fitful roar, 

Like mighty cataract, or silent flows 

In its majestic course ; or, in deep caves, 



127 

Which Nature, in her wild convulsions, formed 
Beneath the ocean's surface ; or where rocks 
Rise high amid the rushing waters — huge, 
Gigantic masses, tow'ring to the sky, 
Like some vast monster of the deep, whose limbs, 
Colossal-like, do gird the mighty deep 
Within its ample stride, and thus outvie 
And far surpass in splendour puerile man's 
Frail, evanescent works, — sent forth a cry 
Of loud and grateful joy, as with its warmth, 
All nature was revived. And this was day — 
The first which ever dawn'd, which His right hand 
Did out of chaos form. For ere the sun 
Was made to rule the day, no day was there 
To earth-born-creatures ; neither was there night, 
For all was sleeping, save the awful form 

Of heaven's Eternal King ! who, as He spoke 

Who spoke not e'er in vain, beheld with joy 
Unutterable, His own immortal face 
In the celestial fire that thus appear'd 
Hung in the heavenly vault ; and heard the choir 
Of heavenly seraphs, with angelic strains, 
Sing — " Holy, holy, infinite, and just ! 
That is, and was, and shall be evermore." 
God saw that it was good, and gave command 
That it should rule the day : to rule the night, 
He bade the moon ride o'er the darken'd sky 
In silent grandeur, flinging her chaste beams 
O'er all His mighty works — her mellow light, 
As beautifully mild, serenely soft, 



128 " LET THERE BE LIGHT." 

As that pure virgin, who, in after time, 

Brought forth His own anointed Son, to bear 

The heavy burthen of man's heinous sins 

Upon his guiltless head — hung in the air, 

And shed a lustrous halo o'er the earth : 

Beneath her gentle beams the lover sighs, 

And pours love's magic words into the ear 

Of some fair, timid, yet approving maid, 

Whose modest blushes all unseen do rise 

Beneath the mellow light, as she doth press 

The hand which trembling grasps her own, and feels 

The warm blood thrilling through its every nerve, 

As, with impassioned words, and eyes, whose fire 

Would fright the timid virgin, were their glance 

Not hid beneath the deep'ning shades of night, 

He pleads his earnest cause : yet not alone 

Doth the fair vestal orb display her light 

O'er the dark horizon ; for myriad stars, 

In countless multitudes, do cast a glow 

O'er all creation's works ; those brilliant gems, 

E'en as a wreath of glittering diamonds, bound 

Around the brows of royalty, do grace 

The courtly palace ; or, as precious stones 

Of ruby, topaz, emerald, or pearl, 

Do add fresh lustre to the peerless charms 

Of some fair daughter of illustrious race, 

Decked out in all the wealth of famed Golcond, 

To grace the nuptial couch ; those dazzling rays 

Of heavenly radiance, o'er the distant sky 

Diffuse their sparkling light, and make weak man, 



"LET THERE BE LIGHT." 129 

While gazing upward at the vaulted arch 
Of heaven, admire, and worship in his works 
The mighty hand of God. 

For who can stand 
And gaze upon the starlit canopy 
Of the eternal vault, whereon the throne 
Of everlasting power, and love, and might — 
Surrounded by archangels, whose loud voice, 
In hallelujahs, hail their Lord and King — 
Is fix'd to all eternity, or gaze 
Upon the radiant queen of night, or cast 
His eye unshaded up toward the sun, 
Which in effulgence glows, and dare affirm, 
In solemn mockery, there is no God ! 
" God said, Let there be light ;" when quickly 

sprang 
A dazzling ray of light in man's rude breast, 
Henceforth to cheer his earthly path, to guide 
Him in his earthly course. " Let there be light ;" 
What potent power is in those few short w r ords ! 
tl Let there be light !" let every soul rejoice 
In Heaven's eternal gift ! " Let there be light " 
To cheer the humble, and exalt the just !" 
" Let there be light " o'er earth, and sea, and sky, 
In howling wilderness, in verdant groves, 
In gilded halls, in cotter's humble shed ! 
" Let there be light," that every living soul 
May feel its influence benign, and fall 
Before the Almighty Giver, and bow down 
In silent thankfulness. " Let there be light " 

K 



130 " LET THERE BE LIGHT." 

To chase the demon Guilt, and his vile host 

Of howling cormorants, from every clime 

Whereon the fiend hath set his cloven hoof. 

" Let there be light !" Ye legislators, hear, 

And hear it not unheeded: God hath said, 

" Let there be light !" Obey His dread command. 

Let universal light be shed o'er all 

His erring creatures ; let all hearts rejoice 

In universal light ; let knowledge spring 

Forth from the mental darkness that too long 

Hath ruled o'er every land ; let learning find 

A place in every human breast, to shed 

Its glorious rays of everlasting light : — 

Then will all nations rest in peace ; their sons, 

In virtuous deeds, each with late rivals vie — 

The sword neglected, in the scabbard rust, 

And war's rude turmoil cease — regenerate man, 

In blissful peace dwell with his fellow man ; 

And the Omniscient eye at length behold 

His glorious image, shadowed forth in man, 

Pure, as at the creation — ere the world 

Was tenanted by evil ; ere the ray 

Of heavenly light was shadowed by the fall 

Of disobedient man. 



131 



TEIGNMOUTH, SOUTH DEVON. 

[The following stanzas were written to please a 
friend, residing at Teignmouth, who requested me 
to write something in rhyme, upon his birth-place.] 

Pray, list awhile, ye men of Teign, 
Whose river joins the foaming main, 
And think not that I would pass o'er 
Unheeded thy bold, rock-girt shore. 
Oft have I strolPd along thy Den, 
Or boated o'er thy queenly Teign, 
And gazed with joyous rapture o'er 
The trackless sea ; from thy fair shore 
Beheld the star-lit canopy 
Of heaven's eternal, boundless sky, 
As silently beneath my feet 
The waters, in a glassy sheet, 
Came sweeping on with crested foam, 
Wafting the hardy seaman home: 
And I have thought what joy would be 
Shed o'er his humble family, 
As gaily he has leaped on shore, 
To clasp them to his breast once more — 
That breast, where thoughts of wife and child, 
All fears and sorrows had beguiled ; 
k 2 



132 TEIGNMOUTH. 

And I have fancied with what joy 
He clasp'd his wife, and infant boy ; 
Then wept, and smiled, and with caress 
Enhanced by love's impassion'd kiss, 
He with endearment to them clung, 
In speechless joy which had no tongue : 
Yes, I have fancied such a scene, 
As I have stroll'd along thy green ; 
And thought so warm a welcome home 
Would almost tempt a king to roam. 

And I have stood amid the throng 
Of happy creatures, old and young, 
And cast my eyes o'er thy green hills, 
Which, rising in the distance, fills 
The limner's canvas with a view, 
If fairly portray'd, grand and true. 
And Fancy, with her num'rous train, 
Hath freely scamper' d through my brain, 
Enhancing all that I have seen 
Or heard of thee, sweet flowing Teign. 
In visions bright before my eye, 
In quick succession, glided by 
Soft, sweet, voluptuous female forms, 
With swanlike necks and snow-white arms, 
• Cheeks radiant as the blushing rose, 
Eyes whose long lashes half disclose 
The melting softness of the sex, 
Whom Heav'n ordained poor man to vex, 



TEIGNMOUTH, 133 

Tease, and torment ; then with a sigh, 

And tear-drop glist'ning in the eye, 

To lead him in her silken chain 

A willing captive back again. 

Such are the wonders love doth work 

O'er Christian, Pagan, Jew, or Turk — 

Of ev'ry age, and every clime, 

They have been rulers, from all time : 

And ever will they hold their sway — 

While love dictates, men must obey ; 

For with their smiles, and winning graces, 

Gentle sighs, and lovely faces, 

Soft, heaving bosoms, piercing eyes, 

Poor man is taken by surprise ; 

And like the roving bee doth sip 

The honey dew off beauty's lip, 

And revel in the luscious stream 

Till Death, the tyrant, ends the dream. 



A VOICE FROM THE DEAD. 

Come, dry up those tears, mother, cease thus to 

sigh, 
Cast from you the gloom that now sits on your brow ! 
Remember, dear mother, your son dwells on high, 
Nor pain, care, or sorrow, he'll ever feel now. 



134 A VOICE FROM THE DEAD. 

Oh ! how can you weep thus, and add to the gloom 
Of father, and brothers, and sisters so kind ; 
It will not recall your lost son from the tomb, 
But add to the sorrow of those left behind. 

Oh, think, dearest mother, that others must feel 
The deep throbs of anguish — that others have eyes; 
The tear-drops of sorrow, that down your cheeks 

steal, 
Must add to those pangs which escape but in sighs. 

Oh, think, dearest mother, my father must feel 
The throb of affection around his heart cling ; 
Let yours be the task, then, dear mother, to steal 
From mem'ry the shaft that affliction doth fling. 

Add not to the cup, that already is fiU'd 
With deep-rooted sorrow, one drop more of grief; 
But labour with kindness, in which you are skilFd, 
To give to yourself and each mourner relief. 

Remember, that while on this earth I sojourn'd 
All known means to save me were tried, but in vain; 
And now, dearest mother, I must not be mourn'd, 
For in heav'n I dwell, and am free from all pain. 



135 



MY MOTHER'S GRAVE. 

Shade of my mother, once again I tread 
The silent churchyard where thy ashes lie ; 
Once more by filial love I'm hither led, 
To ponder o'er thy much loved- memory. 

Hard was thy fate, by nature form'd to shine, 
And shed a lustrous halo o'er the earth ; 
Yet round thy heart affliction did entwine — 
Kind fortune shunn'd thee from thy very birth. 

Oft do I fancy, in the silent night, 
The music of thy much- loved voice T hear, — 
That voice which fill'd my heart with pure delight, 
Whene'er its accents fell upon my ear. 

Thy form was cast in nature's fairest mould, 
Thy heart was stored with love, a garner'd heap ; 
That form, alas ! now lies here, silent, cold ; 
For death has calFd thee to thy long, last sleep. 

Peace to thy manes ! no monumental bust 
Records thy many virtues, or thy love ; 
Thy body here's co-mingling with the dust, 
Thy soul hath wing'd its flight to realms above. 



136 



LIFE AND DEATH. 

When Great Jehovah said, Let man be made 

In our own image, breathed the breath of life 

Into his nostrils, made him Lord of all 

The birds and beasts that perish ; when He said — 

Go forth, increase, and multiply, till earth, 

And air, and water, with their kind doth teem 

In countless multitudes, He raised his hand, 

And winged seraphs, round about the throne 

Of their all-potent and imperial Lord, 

Flew with submission, meek, and humbly bow'd ; 

Then cried aloud, Jehovah, Lord of lords ! 

He singled from the seraphs, as they stood, 

With eyes cast down in sweet humility, 

One of a noble and majestic mien ; 

And to his guardianship bequeathed weak man, 

Whom he had placed in Paradise, to rule 

Sole lord of all things new created, save 

The tree of knowledge, and the tree of life, 

Which were forbidden man to touch ; but Eve, 

Too easy tempted by the foul arch-fiend, 

Did eat and give her lord forbidden fruit, 

Who thus cast forth from Paradise, became 

The sinful fount from which foul death did spring, 



LIFE AND DEATH. 137 

In loathsome hideousness. He then bestow'd 

Upon his chosen seraph power to shield 

Man from the tyrant Death ; hence Life and Death 

Have ever waged o'er the human form, 

In His great name, an everlasting war. 

'Twas morn, and o'er the azure vault of heaven 

The sun in bright effulgence shed his beams, 

When from the op'ning sky there did descend 

Sweet Life, that erst had rested in the clouds, 

To guard his num'rous charge ; he halted not, 

Till he had reach'd a palace, whose fair walls 

Were hung with gorgeous tapestry, whose lord, 

Old and enfeebled, one short year before, 

Led to the altar of hymeneal rites, 

A maiden young, and beautiful, and chaste, 

As fair Diana. A foul sacrifice 

To filial love and duty : her proud sire 

Barter'd his daughter's happiness for gold, 

And pride, and pomp, and power; thus she became 

Thehoary dotard's bride. Around her couch 

Stood skilful leeches and attendant nurse, 

To welcome yet another soul on earth. 

Life, that bright seraph, stood unseen, unheard, 

And gazed in sorrow, as the mother's pangs 

Now raised a gentle murmur, then burst forth 

In one wild scream of anguish, not unmix'd 

With sweet ecstatic joy, as from the womb 

The new-born infant with loud cries came forth. 

All now was hush'd — anon, the leech proclaim'd, 

The precious stranger was a son and heir, 



138 LIFE AND DEATH. 

Which fill'd the suffring mother's heart with joy 
Too great for her endurance, and she fell 
Into a death-like swoon. Sweet Life approach'd, 
And breathed his balmy breath o'er her pale brow, 
Then vanish'd : as he fled, his glistening eye 
Fell on grim Death, who at the palace gate 
Stood silent, musing, and him thus address'd : 
"Grim Death, avaunt ! nor follow in my wake, 
Where all is bright and joyous ; thy gaunt shade 
Doth, like a foul and loathsome pestilence, 
Bring sorrow, grief, and woe." 

The tyrant Death, 
In tones of fiendish joy, to Life replied : 
" I revel in my power ; behind me stalks 
Disease, in all its hideous form ; my nod 
Calls forth on beauty's cheek the hectic flush, 
And bids her charms all wither ; I can strike 
With aim unerring, 'mid the battle's din, 
And single out my victims, though a crowd 
Environ them. Ha, ha ! my power then dread, 
Lest in my wrath I strike thee ! Life, make way ! 
Nor dare attempt to stay my bold career." 
" Back to thy dark abode ! thou shalt not mar 
The joy of that young mother, with thy form 
Of vile impurity," sweet Life replied ; 
And, casting up his eyes to heav'n, behold ! 
The clouds did ope, and a bright flash of light 
Abash'd the foul abortion of the fiend, 
Who, howling, fled, and spread his pinions forth, 
Which quickly bore him to the battle-field, 



LIFE AND DEATH. 139 

Where man, in fury, slew his fellow man. 
" Ha, ha!" he cried, " 'tis here I love to ride, 
Amid the thick and sulph'rous smoke — to cast 
My darts around, unheeded and unseen; 
Behold, mankind thus do my work — become 
My willing slaves !" Anon, the rival hosts, 
Met in the deadly conflict, heaps on heaps, 
Beheld Death's shadow on that fearful day. 
" Ha, ha !" he cried, and cast his darts around, 
In countless numbers. " 'Tis a glorious sight 
To see these murd'rous sons of Cain thus meet 
In deadly fray; to hear the cannon's roar 
Above the din of arms ; to see the smoke 
Rise and o'erspread the canopy of heaven ; 
While groan on groan rise from the teeming earth, 
Like music most melodious to my ears !" 
He paused ; and as he gazed with eyes elate, 
Sweet Life, that blessed seraph did alight, 
From out an azure cloud. His radiant form, 
Like burnish'd gold, shone through the drifting 

smoke, 
As swift his aerial chariot sped along, 
To stay the hand of Death. Behind him sat 
Sweet Pity and her handmaids, whose bright eyes 
Were filPd to overflowing for man's woes. 
" Son of incarnate fiend, who doth display 
The malice of thy foul, malignant heart, 
In every feature of thy hideous face — 
Hence to thy dark abode! Hell's deep abyss 
Now yawneth to receive thee ! — Hie thee hence, 



140 LIFE AND DEATH. 

And hide thee in thy foul and loathsome cave," 
He said ; and Death, in scornful tones, replied : 
" I go, but ere I quit thee, gentle Life, 
Behold the dainty dish I have prepared, 
To feast thy tender eyesight, fill thy hands 
With work enough, at least, for one brief day. 
Call back the spirits to these bleeding clods 
Of cold, insensate clay, restore those limbs, 
And heal those ranc'rous wounds that ope their 

mouths, 
To hail their benefactor. Ha ! ha ! ha !" 
And then he stamp'd the earth, which op'ning wide, 
Ingulfed his hideous form. Life gazed around, 
With eyes brimful of tears, and thus he spake : 
"Oh, ye who revel in your princely halls, 
And in your spleen too oft unleash the hounds 
Of wild, terrific Warfare — ye who stand, 
And proudly speak of battles far away, 
Go, tread the bloody field of death, when morn 
Breaks forth in all its loveliness — behold 
The teeming earth, satured with blood, where man 
And beast, commingling in one foetid mass 
Of putrefying and corrupted flesh, 
Deface the beauteous earth : list to the cries 
That rise from thy poor victims — hear their groans, 
Then place thy hand upon thy heart, and say — 
' This is my work ! for this I have been born 
To wield a sceptre, or be caird a king!'" 
He ceased, and quickly o'er the blood-stain'd field 
He spread his halcyon wings. A fragrant breeze 



LIFE AND DEATH. 141 

Now cast its mild and gentle influence 

O'er man's enormity. Wherever Life 

(However weak or torpid) did abide, 

He breathed upon the suff'rer, and appeased 

His dreadful agonies ; then flung around 

A fragrant essence, that did quickly fill 

Their hearts with pure delight, caused loving forms 

To flit before their mental vision, made 

That field of horror to their eyes appear 

A scene cf quiet and domestic joy. 

Anon, he bade sweet Pity summon forth 

Her willing handmaids, to bind up the wounds 

Of those poor suff'rers. Then he soar'd aloft, 

And, by the noxious vapours that exhaled 

From out the loathsome and detested form 

Of his antagonist, he traced his way 

O'er hills and valleys, rivers, mountains, plains, 

Till o'er fair ocean's wide and watery waste 

Foul Death he did espy ; who, as he came, 

Flung forth his forked darts, which harmless fell, 

For Life was there to save. He raised his voice, 

And thus address'd man's enemy : — " Again 

I've traced thee out ! Vile enemy of man, 

And bitter foe to all that's great and good, 

What awful deeds wert thou prepared to do, 

That thus I find thee, o'er this wondrous waste 

Of wild conflicting elements ! Avaunt ! 

Thy shafts are harmless — Life is here to save : 

Death's tyranny is o'er." Grim Death replied : — 

" Oft dost thou thwart me, Life ; thy potent pow'r 



142 LIFE AND DEATH. 

I cannot now compete with. What I can, 

I'll do to mar the pleasures that doth fill 

Thy heart to overflowing." As he spoke, 

He cast malignant glances on his foe ; 

Who with seraphic smile did thus reply : — 

" My pleasures are of heavenly birth, and thine 

Are of incarnate and unholy fiends 

The foul outpourings. Do thy worst! I'm here, 

With Heaven's help, to save whom thou wouldst 

slay." 
He ceased, then spread his halcyon wings, and took 
His aerial flight, till o'er a gallant barque, 
Which long had lain becalmed — where health and 

strength 
Had yielded to the foul incarnate fiend, 
And his vile incubus — he paused, and saw 
The crew all gazing o'er the clear blue sea, 
Which, like a mirror, cast reflection back 
Upon the gazers. Three long weeks had pass'd 
Since they were thus becalm'd ; not e'en a breath 
Of wind had stirr'd to cool the sultry air ; 
Their water now was running short — their food 
Had long been stinted — gaunt and grim Dismay 
Sat on each haggard brow ; their sunken eyes 
Show'd Death had marked them for his prey ; their 

fate 
Was far beyond the aid of man — they felt 
That Death was now upon them : but to die 
Alone upon the waters, and to fill 
With nauseous smells the sultry atmosphere, 



LIFE AND DEATH. 143 

Was awful to contemplate. Life now spread 
His wings o'er that frail vessel ; and there came 
A gentle current of soft balmy air, 
Which sent the warm blood mantling through their 

veins, 
With all the freshness of their vigorous days. 
Anon, the captain starts — a languid smile 
O'erspread his manly features, as a breath 
Of balmy air fell on his wrinkled brow ; 
Then to his mouth he raised a trumpet — cried 
" All hands aloft ! for see, the freshening breeze 
Already fills our canvas — we are saved !" 
And now, stern Death, in wildest fury flies 
Before the vessel's track, and loudly calls 
From east, north, west, and south, the boisterous 

winds 
To aid him, as he struggles for his prey. 
Anon, the barque bounds o'er the roaring surge 
With wild impetus : now, the lowering clouds 
Burst forth like a volcano — vivid flakes 
Of lightning fly around — the vaulted arch 
Of heaven is opened — and the mighty deep 
Expands its heaving breast, and, with a rush, 
Bounds on and on — the waves in mountains rise, 
And hurl the vessel up towards the clouds, 
Which, bursting in one wild impetuous flood, 
Doth dash her down into the dark abyss 
Of wild ungovern'd waters, — all is now 
Despair, as wildly o'er the boiling surge 
The gallant barque is dashed a fearful wreck ! 



144 LIFE AND DEATH. 

On, on — she rushes through the watery surf, 

Sublime e'en in its anger ! — on she glides — 

Her helm's now washed away, her mainmast 

sprung, 
Her bulwark's all stove in — her foremast now 
Yields to the howling blast ; yet, once again, 
The captain's voice is heard : "Cut, cut !" he shouts ; 
" Clear all the wreck away !" The cannon booms, 
Unheard by all, except that gallant crew, 
Amid the howling of the angry blast ; 
And now the mizenmast, their only hope, 
Yields to the raging tempest — snaps, and falls, 
And crushes all beneath it ! Now, she rights, 
And, like a thing endowed with life, she floats, 
And dashes from her prow the foaming waves ! 
As Life now spreads his wings, in ecstasy 
They now espy a vessel, as she glides 
Far o'er the trackless sea ; the wind subsides — 
The waters fall before the potent wand 
Of Heaven's vicegerent. All is joy, as now, 
Quick o'er the watery waste, the vessel comes 
With canvas spread, and almost within hail. 
Anon, the cannon booms ; its echoes rise, 
And ere they die away, are heard by those 
Who ne'er refused a fellow- sufferer aid ! 
She comes, she comes ! — her boat is launched — her 

crew 
Give way with all their heart and soul ! — they feel 
The life of men now rest on every stroke. 
Anon, the Seraph o'er their pallid cheeks 



LIFE AND DEATH. 145 

Breathed health and strength, then took his aerial 

flight 
To other scenes ; where'er stern Death appeared, 
He followed in his trail, disputing hard 
With his fell enemy, each human life 
That he would fain destroy. The humble cot 
Of toil-worn peasant, or the gilded halls 
Of peer or potentate — o'er Afric's wilds, 
Or Persia's perfumed shores ; or where the rude 
And untaught savage in his wigwam dwells, 
Feasting on fruits and herbs ; or where the fiend 
Invests frail man with appetite, to gloat 
And feed on human flesh their ravenous maw 
With most infernal joy ; or where the bright 
And lovely daughters of fair Britain's isle 
Doth sip rich nectar from the crystal cup, 
Which, in return, reflects their radiant charms, 
He took his aerial flight ; and, as he passed, 
Flung forth a perfumed essence, to assuage 
The bitter pangs of Death, where'er his darts 
Had left their venomed sting. 

On India's shore 
Life paused awhile : A Hindoo mother sat, 
Gazing upon her offspring ; and her heart 
Beat audibly, as thus the mother spoke : — 
" Gone is thy father to the Spirit Land, 
And I, too, soon must follow ; with his corse 
My living form must burn ; the funeral pyre 
Already is erected that will make 
Thee motherless, and me a fiery tomb." 



146 LIFE AND DEATH. 

And now grim Death approached with a foul train 

Of Moloch's bloody and detested sons, 

Who led the victim of their horrid rites 

Of hellish superstition to the pyre, 

Whereon the body of the dead was lain. 

The priests now placed their victim, and began 

With diabolic grimaces to chant 

The funeral dirge ; when, springing from the wood, 

A band of Christian warriors were led on 

By that untiring Seraph (whose soft breath 

Recalled again to life the fleeting soul), 

And with their glittering spears they scattered wide 

Foul Moloch's myrmidons ; then hurried off 

The victim of their most unholy rites. 

Again the two unceasing foes did meet 

Within a little space ; grim Death was wroth, 

And hurled his thunders o'er the Seraph's head, 

Which harmless fell, as thus fair Life did speak : 

" Rail on, rail on — thou foul and loathsome shape 

Of unborn ugliness! — I thee defy : 

For howsoever thou mayst hurl thy darts, 

Immortal Life thou never canst o'ercome." 

Grim Death, in fury, raised his horrid voice, 

And thus the beauteous Seraph (who, in robes 

Of dazzling glory stood) he did address : — 

" Spread o'er the earth, or o'er the ocean wide, 

Thy seraph wings, I'll follow in thy rear — 

Dispute with thee each particle of clay, 

Endowed with life but to succumb to Death." 

To him the Seraph, smiling, thus replied :— 



LIFE AND DEATH. 147 

Weak are thy boastful threats ; for He alone 
Who rules o'er heaven and earth can work me ill !" 
And then he spread his wings, and soared aloft, 
When Death, transported with fierce rage, let fly 
His most envenomed shaft ; the Seraph turned 
And waved his mighty wand o'er Death's gaunt 

shade, 
Who, howling, fled to shun the Seraph's ire. 



THE POACHER. 



For three long weeks he vainly sought 

Employment, far and near ; 
His children nightly round him ran, 
With hungry bellies, pale, and wan, 
And eyes dimm'd with a tear. 

He took them up upon his knee, 

And thought his heart would break ; 
" God help us now, my pretty dears!" 
He said, while hot and scalding tears 
Coursed down his furrow'd cheek. 

" Gudewife," at length he fiercely cried, 

"Our children must have bread ! 
I cannot, will not, sit supine, 
And see them waste away, and pine — 
Our children must be fed." 
l 2 



148 THE POACHER. 

He rose, and left the humble cot, 

And sought the forest glade ; 
Beneath the branches of a tree 
He sat, in silent agony, 

Of ev'ry sound afraid. 

At length he heard a rustling sound, 

A hare came bounding by ; 
He raised his stick, it whizzing fell — 
He seized his prey — 'twere vain to tell 

How soon poor puss did die. 

He hurried home, half mad with joy, 

He quickly dress'd the hare ; 
His children all, with fond caress, 
Press'd on his lips a grateful kiss, 

Well pleased with their choice fare. 

Night came, and with it officers, 

To drag him off to gaol ; 
His wife's loud screams, his children's cries, 
His own heart-breaking agonies, 

Were all of no avail. 

Morn came, and at the felon's bar 

He stood, in woful plight; 
His haggard cheeks, his sunken eye, 
Spoke, more than words, the misery 

That urged him on that night. 



THE POACHER. 149 

The justice sat in solemn state, 

With calm, portentous brow; 
And sternly told him, if defence 
He had, or pleaded innocence, 

That he must do it now. 

He cast his eyes around the court, 

Saw none to plead his cause ; 
He raised his head, and thus he spoke — 
" 'Tis true, your worship, I have broke 
One of my country's laws. 

" I've seen the lord, the squire, the priest, 

Ride on a foaming steed ; 
I've seen them hunt the timid hare, 
Whose shrieks resounded in the air, 

And made my own heart bleed. 

" I saw my wife and children weep, 

I heard them cry for food ; 
My brain with anguish madly whirfd, 
I cursed myself, and all the world, 

And hurried to the wood. 

" I slew the hare, I fed my babes, 

The rest your worship knows !" 
He ceased — a gentle murmur ran 
Through crowded court, as that poor man 

Related thus his woes. 



150 THE POACHER. 

The justice rose, and thus address'd 

The pris'ner, as he stood : 
u The case is clear; the laws must be 
Obey'd alike by you and me — 
'Tis for our country's good. 

11 This time, you only for one month 

To prison will be sent ; 
But if you e'er again appear, 
For poaching, you will find severe 

Will be your punishment !" 



A STORM AT SEA. 

The sails were spread, the anchor weigh'd, the land 
Was fast receding ; still upon the shore, 
In the far distance, many a kerchief waved 
A last fond farewell to the gallant crew. 
Farewell ! — that word clings to the hero's tongue, 
And draws the tear forth from the heart's recess 
To glisten on his cheek — a cheek ne'er blanched 
With coward fear — that word had pass'd. Farewell 
To England, home, and all endear'd ! They stood 
Far off to sea, till like a tiny speck 
In the vast horizon the vessel seem'd 
To those poor watchers. 

In deep agony 
The captain stood, gazing across the deep, 



A STORM AT SEA. 151 

Till daylight fading, hid the rocky shore 
In night's dark mantle. Then he turn'd and sigh'd, 
Then pass'd his hand across his eyes, and dash'd 
Th' unbidden tear from off his furrow'd cheek ; 
Then, with clasp'd hands, he raised his eyes to 

heav'n, 
And silently breathed forth a fervent prayer 
To the Almighty for his wife and babes. 
Anon he starts, as o'er the deep'ning sky 
A lurid glare of lightning darts along, 
Casting a radiance o'er the rising surge, 
Which, moaning now in fitful gusts, rush on 
In fast increasing sheets of foam ; the wind 
Now rends the flapping sails, ere yet the crew 
Can furl them up ; the tatter'd canvas flies 
In wild disorder o'er their heads. Anon, 
The thunder peals in one continuous roar, 
As though high Heav'n had summon'd all its host 
To hurl destruction on that hapless crew. 
The clouds now ope, in one continuous sheet 
The rain in deluge pours, while black as night 
The dismal sky becomes ; the breakers' roar 
Is heard amid the tumult ; then a flash 
Of lightning rolls along the darken'd sky, 
Disclosing all the horrors of the scene 
For one brief moment. All again is dark, 
As though the seal of death had settled there 
Upon that waste of waters. Now a wave, 
With awful roar, doth bear the immerged barque 
High on its swelling bosom ; then she falls, 



152 A STORM AT SEA. 

And as she glides down in the foaming trough, 

Again a mountain wave strikes her frail hull, 

Clearing her decks of all and ev'rything 

That late was stow'd with all a seaman's care. 

Anon, amid the wind's incessant roar, 

The captain's voice is heard ; while at the wheel 

Himself he stands, the bravest of the brave : 

When, as he turns the wheel, a sullen wave 

Comes on with fiend-like fury, strikes the helm, 

And bears it far away. " All's lost !" he cries ; 

" Pray God, we ride out this tempestuous night !" 

The welt is sounded, and the dread report— 

" Five feet of water in her hold !" — is made. 

" Cheer up, brave hearts!" the captain cries — " our 

lives 
May yet be saved. Man both the pumps! be smart; 
What man can do, we yet will do, Our guns 
Cast overboard ; we shall not need their aid, 
Save one, to fire a signal, should we ride 
Throughout this awful storm ! Twere now but waste 
Of time, to us most precious : who could hear 
The cannon boom amid this awful roar 
Of wild conflicting elements !" He ceased ; 
Then to the pump he plied his vig'rous arms : 
With courage most heroical he work'd, 
And cheered with hope his poor despairing crew. 
Again the well is sounded : water gains 
On them apace. Three bells are scarcely past: 
She cannot float till daylight ! With a shriek 
Of wild despair, the crew give up their toil, 



A STORM AT SEA. 153 

As with an awful creak the hatches rise, 

Disclosing to them at one glance the fate 

That now awaits them. See, she settles fast ! 

Anon, a seaman rushes forth, and cries — 

" Give us some grog, ere yet the vessel sinks !" 

" Shame on ye !" cried the captain ; " would you 

steep 
Your coward soul in drunkenness ? Weak man, 
Prepare to meet your God, as man should meet 
That awful Judge who lays all secrets bare !" 
And now with curses in his mouth, the wretch, 
Who fain would drown his cowardice in drink, 
Sneaks forth from his commander, and in rage 
Descends to meet that death he might have shunn'd. 
Meantime a raft is made, and firmly lashed, 
To aid them in their utmost need. She rolls. 
" Cast forth the raft !" the captain shouts. ■" All 

hands, 
Make ready now to spring!" Again she rolls, 
Then settles fast, and, with an awful plunge, 
Down, down, she glides into the dark abyss 
Of deep, unfathom'd waters, ne'er to rise 
Till heav'n, and earth, and sea again combine, 
Leaving that hapless crew, amid the storm, 
And deepest hue of night, to brave the deep, 
Upon that frail and buoyant raft. Three days 
And three long nights, all tedious, did they float 
Upon the crested waves ; nor food nor drink 
E'er pass'd their lips, till Heav'n in mercy sent 
A vessel to their rescue. They were saved ! 



154 



A CALM AT SEA. 

'Twas sunset, and the glorious god of day 
Flung his bright shadows o'er the clear blue sea, — 
In many bright, yet ever-changing tints, — 
Making the placid waters, as they laved 
The vessel's side, as like a graceful swan 
She floated on its surface, look like streams 
Of molten gold, or sparkling gems, full meet 
To grace the brows of majesty. 

He stood 
With folded arms, scanning the vast abyss 
That lay beneath him, rapt in soft repose ; 
He turn'd his eyes now heavenward — the chaste 

moon 
Was slowly rising, as the sun declined, 
Casting its soft and mellow'd light o'er all 
That wondrous waste of waters. Thus he stood, 
The only living thing 'twixt sea and sky, 
Communing with his thoughts ; all hope was fled, 
Despair was brooding in his lonely breast, 
And yet he could not weep — the watery fount 
Was all dried up, his lips were parch'd and dry, 
His tongue clave to his mouth, his very breath 
Was foul and pestilential, — yet he lived, 
The only one of all the hapless crew. 
Oh, tell him not of dangers in a storm, 



A CALM AT SEA. 155 

For he had seen the sea run mountains high, 

And yet felt fresh and buoyant ; he had braved 

The sea in its most wild, ungovern'd mood, 

And never felt his spirit quail. It pass'd, 

And all was well again ; not so a calm : 

It hovers o'er the vessel, till her crew 

Fall one by one, as leaves in autumn fall — 

Dried up and wither'd — till one helpless wretch 

At length is left in lonesome solitude, 

To waste his hours of life in hopes and fears. 

Oh, who can tell the agony of thought, 

In such a solemn hour, that passes through 

The brain of man, who thus stands forth alone, 

In his own impotence, to plead his cause 

And sue for mercy! — such dread thoughts must be 

Sacred for ever, 'tween him and his God. 



STANZAS ON HOPE. 

Oh, Hope ! thou art the fairest, loveliest flower, 

That ever blossom'd in the human breast ; 

The choicest gift that bounteous Heaven can shower, 

From the bright mansion of eternal rest, 

Upon impotent man : thy radiant beams 

Do play about the weary wand'rer's heart, 

And mingle in sweet childhood's sunny dreams, 

Robbing the keenest arrow of its smart, 



156 STANZAS ON HOPE. 

Making this earth appear, to human eyes, 

Equal in glory to the boundless skies 

When Sol's bright beams at early morn do rise. 

Go, watch the toiling slave, while to the oar 

Securely chain'd, he labours life away ! 

While busy mem'ry through his brain doth pour, 

Quick as his boat's prow dashes through the spray ! 

What is it dries the tear-drop in his eye, 

And drives the furrows fr.om his pallid brow ? 

'Tis Hope, that kindly beameth from on high, 

And kindleth in his breast a fervent glow, 

That speaks of what he erst was wont to be, 

Ere doom'd to pine in chains and slavery, 

And whispers, once again, he shall be free. 

Mark the fond mother, as o'er her sick child 
She trembling stands in speechless agony, 
And gazes on the image undefiled 
Of Him, whose throne is fix'd beyond the sky — 
What is it sheds a glow o'er her fair face, 
And re-illumes her eyes with lustrous light, 
Casting a halo o'er each beauteous grace, 
Which erst was shaded with the hue of night ? — 
Tis Hope, that gift of God, whose radiance flies 
Around her form, and sparkles in her eyes, 
While heaves her bosom with unnumber'd sighs. 
Mark the frail barque, as o'er the boiling surge 
She madly rushes in her wild career, 



STANZAS ON HOPE. 157 

While winds are howling forth the dismal dirge, 

And mountain waves burst o'er the mariner : 

He reels, he gasps, yet struggles to oppose 

His fragile strength so impotently weak ; 

While his rude breast, with strong convulsive throes, 

Heaves silently, as pallid grows his cheek ; 

His home, his wife, his children, all appear 

Before his mental eye, and bid him cheer, 

With glorious Hope, the heart bow'd down with fear. 

Mark the frail remnant of mortality, 

Whose wasted form proclaims he soon must die ; 

What is it cheers him in his agony, 

And brings bright visions to his fancy's eye ? — 

Tis Hope ! that radiant star, which from on high 

Doth shed its genial influence benign, 

And lendeth to his dim and sunken eye 

A melting softness, Hope's most welcome sign — 

'Tis Hope, at length, hath touched his troubled brain, 

And softly whispers, though his sins remain, 

His deep repentance is not all in vain. 



158 



A SOLDIER ON THE FIELD OF WATERLOO, 

THE NIGHT BEFORE, AND THE NIGHT AFTER 
THE BATTLE. 

He stood alone ! — and yet not all alone — 
For Nature was around him ; all was calm 
And silent save the gentle wind, which sigh'd 
And whistled through the far outstretching trees, 
Whose giant limbs cast forth a darker shade 
O'er the green surface of their mother earth, 
While their high tow'ring forms soar'd in the air, 
And hid themselves amid night's solemn gloom. 
'Twas midnight, as alone he stood ; his eyes 
Were heav'nward turn'd ; his thoughts had wan- 
der' d far 
From earth, and all things earthly ; and his soul 
Was rapt in contemplation of the skies. 
The moon rode high, amid the changing clouds, 
Which ever and anon crossed o'er her disc, 
And hid her from his anxious gaze. Again 
She soared in modest grandeur from the gloom, 
Casting a mellowing tint o'er all the earth. 
The stars, those little gems of radiant light, 
Like sparks of fire, burst out at intervals, 
Revealing for a moment their bright hues, 
And then again concealing all their charms, 
Like to a blushing virgin, who recoils 



A SOLDIER AT WATERLOO. 159 

In maiden modesty from man's rude gaze, 

To nestle in her mother's gentle breast, 

And hide her fears and blushes as they rise. 

How beautiful and calm is silent night, 

When Nature sleeps, and man alone stands forth, 

To gaze upon the ever beauteous sky 

And commune with his thoughts ! — a holy calm, 

Unfelt amid the turmoil of the day, 

Doth spread itself around his every sense, 

And teach him to bow down before his God 

In silent thankfulness. 

The soldier stood, 
And cast his eyes far o'er the broad expanse 
Of rich, luxuriant verdure, that was spread 
O'er all thy open field, fair Waterloo ! 
Night waned away, — the day ran out its course. 
Again he stood upon that fatal plain ; 
Alas ! how changed in that brief space was all 
The solemn beauty of that awful spot ! 
The earth, which erst was clothed in verdant green, 
Now teem'd with human gore — the zephyr's sigh 
Gave place to man's deep-breathed and mournful 

groans 
Which floated in the air, amid the gloom 
Of deep'ning night, which flung a sombre veil, 
As 'twere in pity, o'er that scene of woe, 
To hide from human eyes the mortal pangs 
That rend asunder life's fast fleeting ties, 
And waft the soul forth from the bleeding corse, 
Leaving that godlike form, where once were health 



160 A SOLDIER AT WATERLOO. 

And strength allied to potent powers of mind, 

A fetid mass of foul, corrupted flesh, 

Filling the air with noisome pestilence, 

Fatal to all who move within its sphere. 

And why should man thus slay his fellow man ? 

Is it because an all-wise God hath made 

Too little space for all to live and breathe ? 

Or is't because the bounteous earth doth bear 

Too little produce, that man must perforce 

Destroy his fellow man, and stain his soul 

With murd'rous blood ? Alas, no ! If it were, 

There were a cause co-equal with effect. 

Why then doth man, in war's rich panoply, 

'Mid trumpets' sound, and cymbals' startling crash, 

Rush like a demon on his armed foes, 

Deface their forms with wounds from glitt'ring steel, 

And rob them of that life he could not give ? 

It is because ambition prompts the high 

And mighty still to rise, though ev'ry step 

Should tread on human necks, rend human hearts — 

Make rivers run with human life- drops, till 

The o'erpow'ring torrent carries in its course 

A heavy burthen — a whole nation's tears ! 

Yes ! 'tis ambition doth unleash the hounds 

Of murd'rous Warfare ; and for one man's gain 

Ten thousand lives are sacrificed, the earth 

Manured with human flesh and blood, the wife 

Robb'd of her husband, mother of her son, 

And children of their sires. That man must bear 

A heavy load of guilt upon his soul 



A SOLDIER AT WATERLOO. 161 

Who rashly plunges nations into war. 
'Twas thus the soldier on that awful night 
Soliloquized, while treading o'er the field 
Where death had been so busy. He escaped 
As 'twere by miracle — not e'en a scratch 
Had reached his sinewy form ; and yet his sword 
Was deeply stain'd with blood, e'en to the hilt. 
He drew it forth, and gazing on it, knelt, 
And poured forth to Heav'n a fervent pray'r, 
That such a sight might ne'er again assail 
His aching eyeballs ; then he raised the blade, 
And press'd it to his burning lips. A tear 
Fell from his moisten'd eye — a sacred drop, 
Fresh from the stream of a most noble breast. 
His prayer was heard. And not in vain was shed 
Man's blood upon thy field, famed Waterloo ; 
For victory crown'd the day. The eagle fell, 
And never soar'd again. Its obsequies 
Brought peace to ev'ry European shore. 



DEAR LAND OF THE FREE. 

Dear land of the free, when thy banner's unfurl'd, 
We'll challenge with glee, the rest of the world; 

For what foe can withstand 

The glittering brand, 

Which a warrior's hand 

M 



162 THE LAND OF THE FREE. 

For freedom doth wield ; 
While the drums loudly beat, 
And the rival hosts meet, 
To conquer or die on the dread battle-field ! 

Hurrah for our Queen, and the land of our birth ! 

No brighter is seen all over the earth. 
May Victoria long reign, 
Our rights to maintain ; 
Though France, ay, or Spain, 
With tyrants ally 1 
While her name is enshrined 
In each true Briton's mind, 

Proud tyrants or despots she well may defy. 

Hurrah ! then, hurrah ! for the land of the free ! 

In peace, or in war, none greater shall be. 
For our Queen and our laws, 
In honour's just cause, 
What Briton will pause 
To conquer or die, 
When that standard's unfurl'd 
That hath challenged the world, 

In the name of our Queen, and of dear liberty ! 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



His Grace the Duke of Beaufort. 

The Right Rev. Henry, Lord Bishop of Exeter. 

The Right Hon. the Earl of Granville (4 copies). 

The Right Hon. the Earl of Orkney. 

The Right Hon. Lord Viscount Seaham. 

The Hon. Lord Charles Clinton. 

The Hon. Lord "William Somerset. 

The Hon. W. E. Fitzmaurice, M.P. 

Sir Thomas Acland, Bart., M.P. 

Sir John Conroy, Bart. 

Colonel Hall, M.P., First Life Guards. 

Captain Bulkeley, ditto. 

— Hogg, Esq., ditto. 

Frederick Pratt Barlow, Esq., Kensington-square. 

Geo. E. Frere, Esq., Alfred Club, Albemarle-street. 

The Rev. Edward Golding, Hassenford, Devonport. 

Daniel Gooch, Esq., Paddington. 

Geo. Hennett, Esq., Duke-street, Westminster. 

Colonel Maddox. 

C. C. Prinsep, Esq., Paddington. 

Thomas Osier, Esq., Cirencester. 

James Pyke, Esq., Paddington. 

F. Bush Saunders, Esq., Brompton-square (2 copies). 

— Stevenson, Esq., Paddington. 
J. Massey, Esq. ditto. 
Thomas Ward, Esq. ditto. 



164 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



Mr. Blundell, Walworth-road. 

Mr. John Bailey, Paddington. 

Mr. Banks, ditto. 

Mr. Billing, ditto. 

Mr. Biscoe, Chelsea. 

Mr. Cox, Paddington. 

Mr. Cooper, ditto. 

Mr. Collard, ditto. 

Mr. Emmens, ditto. 

Mr. Fryer, ditto. 

Mrs. Hayes, South-street. 

Mr. Hackshaw, Paddington. 

Mr. Hoy, ditto. 

Mr. Jeans, ditto. 

Mr. King, ditto. 

Mr. Frederick Miller, ditto. 

Mr. B. Moss, ditto. 

Mr. Prosser, Somers Town. 

Miss Siggins, South-street. 

Mr. Sylvester, Paddington. 

Mr. Thrush, ditto. 

Mr. Tompkins, ditto. 

Mr. Thompson, ditto. 

Mr. R. G. Underdown, ditto. 

H. Howell, Esq., Slough. 

W. Nash, Esq., ditto. 

— Wrench, Esq., Priory, ditto. 
Mr. Baines, ditto. 

S. Chettle, Esq., Maidenhead. 

Mr. Hornblower, ditto. 

Mr. Lovegrove, jun., ditto. 

Mr. Saner, Twyford. 

Henry Simmonds, Esq., Reading. 

T. H. Bertram, Esq., ditto. 

— Beynon, Esq., ditto. 

H. B. Mitchell, Esq., ditto. 

— Orton, Esq., ditto. 

— Orton, Esq., jun., ditto. 
Mr. Childs, ditto. 

— Coxhead, jun., ditto. 

— Leaver, ditto. 



Mr. Compton, Wallingford Road. 
Mr. Bishop, Didcot. 

— Alford, ditto. 

— Wilkinson, ditto. 

J. Kelly, Esq., Oxford. 

Mr. Fraser, ditto. 

Mr. Stevens, Faringdon Road. 

— Davis, Esq., Swindon. 

— Bartlett, Esq., ditto. 

Mr. Edmund Freeman, ditto. 

Mr. Fuller, ditto. 

Mr. J. Waugh, ditto. 

Frederick Wiggan, Esq., Stroud. 

Mr. W. A. Tetley, Brinscombe. 

Mr. Eglinton, Gloucester. 

Mr. John Brown, ditto. 

Mrs. Chas. Poole, Wykehill House, 

Gloucestershire. 
Mr. George, Wootton Basset. 
G. W. Andrews, Esq., Chippenham. 

— Brotherhood, Esq., ditto. 

— Fisher, Esq., ditto. 
Joseph Neeld, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. Murray, Badminton. 
Mr. Williams, Chippenham. 
Mr. Gundry, Carsham. 

R. Pritchard, Esq., ditto. 

Mr. Poole Davis, Box. 

Michael Lane, Esq., Bath. 

Mr. Harris, ditto. 

Mr. Denham, Keynsham. 

J. Badham, Esq., Bristol. 

C. Fripp, Esq., ditto. 

P. Morris, Esq., ditto. 

H. B. Sayer,Esq., Engineer's Office, 

ditto. 
W. D. Wills, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. Burton, ditto. 
Mr. Champion, ditto. 
Mr. H. Dunn, ditto. 
Drawing Office, ditto (2 copies). 



Hli 



u ■- 



%wm 



LIST OF SUBSCRIBERS. 



165 



Mr. C. Hoffman, Bristol. 
Miss Lake, ditto. 

— Murlis, ditto. 

Mr. Hugh Owen, ditto. 

Mr. Edward Roffey, ditto. 

Mr. James Saunders, ditto. 

Mr. Stodart, ditto. 

Mr. Headly, Nailsea. 

J. Lovell, Esq., Clifton, Bristol. 

Robert Baker, Esq., Rington. 

Mr. Tomlins, Clevedon Road. 

Henry Davies, Esq., Weston Super 

Mare. 
Mr. Mears, ditto. 
Mr. Taylor, ditto. 
Mr. Swan, Highbridge. 
John Browne, Esq., Bridgewater. 
Wm. Browne, Esq., ditto. 
Isaac Dusson, Esq., ditto. 
Robert Ford, jun., Esq., ditto. 
Edward Jones, Esq., ditto. 
Rees Jones, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. William Croker, ditto. 
Mr. W. D. Francis, ditto. 
Mr. Edward Froad, ditto. 
Mr. Halliday, ditto. 
Mr. Murlis, ditto. 
Frederick Walford, Esq., Taunton. 
Mr. Reece, ditto. 

— White, Esq., Wellington. 
Mr. Bowles, ditto. 

Mr. Fraser, Tiverton Road. 
Mr. Hearn, ditto. 
Mr. Wonnacott, ditto. 
Mr. Ward, Collumpton. 
Mr. Mengrove, Hele. 
Robert Ashbee, Esq., Exeter. 

— Froude, Esq., Dashington. 
Dr. Miller, Exeter. 
Thomas Whitaker, Esq., ditto. 
M. Rae, Esq., ditto. 



— Marshall, Esq., Exeter. 
Mr. Long., ditto. 

Mr. Underdown, ditto. 

Mr. Morgan, St. Thomas's, Exeter. 

Mr. Hobbs, ditto. 

Mr. Williams, ditto. 

Miss Channing, Heavitree, ditto. 

Mr. Cross, Star Cross. 

Mr. Hood, ditto. 

Mr. Burrington, Dawlish. 

— Harrison, Esq., ditto. 
Edward Gallais, Esq., ditto. 
Edward Wadham, Esq., ditto. 
W. C. Wright, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. Elliott, Teignmouth. 
Mr. Holmes, ditto. 

Mr. Murch, ditto. 
Mr. Stuart, ditto. 
Mrs. Tucker, ditto. 
W. Carr, Esq., Newton Abbott. 
W. Flamank, Esq., ditto. 
C. Ogilvie, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. Thomas Pomeroy, artist, Brix- 
ham. 

Favoured by Mr. John Symonds. 

William White Pridham, Esq., 

Newton Abbott. 
Albert P. Prowse, Esq., ditto. 
Mr. Thomas Batt, ditto. 
Mr. Basting, ditto. 
Mr. Wm. Branscombe, ditto. 
Mr. Edwin Chivers. 
Mr. Charles Gedge. 
Mr. G. Hook. 
Mr. Edward Howe. 
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